MELBOURNE, Australia — The Internationals produced a stunning late comeback to stay in the lead over the United States heading into the final day of the Presidents Cup.
The seven-time defending champion Americans were on track to sweep the afternoon’s foursomes, which would have tied the Presidents Cup on Saturday. Tiger Woods’ USA was leading all four afternoon matchups in a remarkable comeback, having ended the morning four-balls 9-5 adrift.
But Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler sensationally coughed up a 5-up lead against Marc Leishman and Abraham Ancer, who triggered a dramatic finish to the fourth session at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
By the time proceedings ended after 6 p.m. local time (2 a.m. ET), the Internationals held a 10-8 lead heading into Sunday’s 12 singles.
No team has trailed after three sessions and won the Presidents Cup; however, the USA emerged from the foursomes on a mission to create history.
Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland put a point on the board for the USA via a 2 and 1 victory over Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen.
A second point came thanks to Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, who saw off Im Sung-jae and Cameron Smith by the same scoreline.
That is when the fun began. Thomas, carrying a perfect 3-0-0 record, and Fowler approached the 11th tee boasting that 5-up advantage over Australian Leishman and Mexican teammate Ancer.
Leishman had not won all week, but his rally alongside Ancer energized the crowd during a memorable ending to the day’s play. After Thomas’ wild tee shot landed among the trees, Leishman’s stunning approach helped secure an unthinkable halve for the Internationals.
Attention then turned to Joaquin Niemann and Byeong Hun An, who were 2 down through 13 against Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar.
With captain Ernie Els watching and fans at full voice, Niemann’s brilliant shot from the rough paved the way for the Internationals — without a Presidents Cup triumph since 1998 — to halve another match. An did have a birdie chance to win the match but his effort slid agonizingly wide of the hole.