Ten years after losing the “Miracle at Medinah” Ryder Cup to Europe, another United States team captained by Davis Love is in danger of another humbling defeat at the Presidents Cup.
The Internationals pulled within 11-7 of the Americans on Saturday (Sunday AEST), the same four-point deficit Europe faced when it made an epic last-day fightback to win the 2012 Ryder Cup.
The US team, which leads the all-time Presidents Cup rivalry 11-1-1, needs to take 4.5 points from Sunday’s 12 singles matches at Quail Hollow to win the trophy for a ninth consecutive time.
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The Americans, with 10 of the world’s 16 top-ranked players, were heavy favorites over a global squad which lost several top stars who jumped from the PGA Tour to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series and became ineligible.
An upset US loss would be an epic golf shocker. But the Americans still have a four-point margin.
“Four points is four points. It has been a big number,” Love said. “I’ve been four behind before too, you know. We’ve been four ahead, four behind. So it’s a magical number.”
Australian Cam Davis and South Korean Kim Joo-hyung came up with putts that delivered 1-up wins in matches that US duos had led with three holes remaining.
But the Americans aren’t feeling any tightness over historical ties to the 2012 upset loss as much as they are “pissed off” and determined to avoid such a fate this time.
“I couldn’t tell you what the score was and what it ended up being, and I don’t really care,” US unbeaten Jordan Spieth said. “Nobody on that team is on this team.”
Another 4-0 American, Justin Thomas, noted, “I was in Turkey for the World Amateur. It’s pretty tough to watch that one on TV.”
Tokyo Olympic champion Xander Schauffele says he wasn’t watching in 2012 either. “Just got to San Diego State, my sophomore year, so wasn’t really watching golf when I was in school there,” he said. “Much better things to do.”
The only history lesson the US team was interested in was the scoring on Saturday, which left the Americans in a grumpy mood.
“They were pretty mad. We wanted to win every session, and we tied one and lost one today. So that wasn’t part of our plan,” Love said.
“(Singles) is one of our best formats, and they’re going to come out mad tomorrow. So I hope they’re mad. I’m confident that they will channel that into playing tomorrow.”
Thomas said Saturday’s setbacks will become Sunday motivation. “We’re going to be playing a little pissed off and try to go win 12 points and see what we can do,” Thomas said.
Spieth made it clear he likes his team’s higher-ranked talent in any man-to-man showdown.
“We’ve got to refocus and we’ve got a lot of pissed off guys that want to come out really strong,” Spieth said.
“I wouldn’t pick any of their players to play against any of our players and take them by any means. You put any of our guys against any one of theirs, I’d still tell you I think our guy’s going to win.”
Schauffele called himself “one of those pissed off guys,” adding, “Wasn’t very pleased with myself. So we’re definitely looking forward to tomorrow.”
He’s planning on cooling his anger, however.
“I don’t play very well pissed off. I play like a toddler,” Schauffele said. “I play my best when I’m focused and very present.”
PAIRINGS FOR SUNDAY SINGLES (from 2.02am AEST)
Justin Thomas (USA) vs. Si Woo Kim (INT)
Jordan Spieth (USA) vs. Cam Davis (INT)
Sam Burns (USA) vs. Hideki Matsuyama (INT)
Patrick Cantlay (USA) vs. Adam Scott (INT)
Scottie Scheffler (USA) vs. Sebastian Munoz (INT)
Tony Finau (USA) vs. Taylor Pendrith (INT)
Xander Schauffele (USA) vs. Corey Conners (INT)
Cameron Young (USA) vs. Sungjae Im (INT)
Billy Horschel (USA) vs. K.H. Lee (INT)
Max Homa (USA) vs. Tom Kim (INT)
Collin Morikawa (USA) vs. Mito Pereira (INT)
Kevin Kisner (USA) vs. Christiaan Bezuidenhout (INT)
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