JERSEY CITY, New Jersey: A record equalling win for Phil Mickelson helped the United States seize an unprecedented second-day lead against a floundering International team at the Presidents Cup on Friday
With an 8-2 lead over captain Nick Price’s Internationals, the Americans are more than halfway to the 15.5 points they need to win the biennial match play competition for a 10th time.
Mickelson, the only man to appear in all 12 Presidents Cups, rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole to seal a 1-up victory with Kevin Kisner over Australians Jason Day and Marc Leishman.
The United States won four and halved another of the day’s five fourball matches at Liberty National Golf Club, thwarting the Internationals’ bid to bounce back from a two-point opening day deficit.
The Americans’ six-point lead is the biggest ever held after two days of the competition, which sees 30 points up for grabs over four days.
The US had led by five points at the same stage in three prior editions, most recently in 2007.
Leishman and Day had led from the opening hole through the 14th before Kisner squared the match with a birdie at 15 — setting the stage for Mickelson’s heroics. Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman — two Presidents Cup rookies — set the tone for the United States, thumping Charl Schwartzel and Anirban Lahiri 6 & 5 in the first match to finish.
Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas then delivered a stinging 3 & 2 victory over the International powerhouse duo of Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace.
For a time on Friday it looked like the Internationals could be turning things around, leading early in three matches.
Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed rallied to halve their match with Japanese world number three Hideki Matsuyama and Canadian Adam Hadwin.
Matsuyama and Hadwin were 2-up with four to play. Finally, however, they were lucky to escape with half a point.
And world number one Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka pulled away on the back nine to beat Aussie Adam Scott and Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas 3 & 2.