JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Well, it was (sort of) fun while it lasted. This Presidents Cup is now all over but the shouting. The Americans’ dominant play on Friday brought them 4.5 out of 5 points and pushed their lead to 8-2. Even on such a lopsided day there was plenty to chew on.
Phil Mickelson. Twenty-four hours after missing a do-or-die putt on the 18th hole, Phil the Thrill returned to the same tee in a taut match against a game Marc Leishman and his ineffective partner, Jason Day. With wingman Kevin Kisner in the drink off the tee, Mickelson hit a towering draw to 12 feet and then gutted the putt, giving the U.S. a 1-up victory and sending the Internationals to dinner even more dispirited than they already were.
Anirban Lahiri. After going 0-3 at the last Presidents Cup, this likable golfing gentleman from India was desperate for redemption. Instead, he got off to the worst start imaginable: dumping his opening tee shot in the water on the 1st hole, leaving a shot in the sand on the second and spraying his drive on No. 3 nearly into Delaware. After that wild drive Lahiri was informed that he could not play the rest of the hole, punishment for a rules breach that occurred on No. 2: After he and partner Charl Schwartzel had conceded the hole, Lahiri tried another bunker shot for practice, which is prohibited by the rules. Lahiri played the rest of the round in a fog and he and Schwartzel got spanked 6 and 5 by Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell.
Johnny Vegas’s hopping, screaming, stomping merriment after his chip-in to win the 13th hole. It was the kind of visceral emotion that has been sorely lacking at this Cup. Honorable mention: Daniel Berger tumbling over backward when Jordan Spieth potentially match-winning putt lipped out.
Patrick Reed’s club-twirl on the par-3 18th…which was followed seconds later by his ball kerplunking in the water. Dishonorable mention: Mickelson and Kisner’s exquisitely awkward failed high-five/chest-bump after Phil’s putt on 18. This would rate as the clear winner except that we have become numb to golfers screwing up this sort of thing.
Jimmy Johnson, Justin Thomas’s caddie, wearing one red sneaker and one blue one. Serious swag from an otherwise understated vet.
There are plenty of stylish American golfers. Many of their wives are stylish. They all have clothing deals at companies that are staffed by, presumably, stylish people. So why on earth are the American uniforms always so fugly? White pants/white belt/white hat/white shoes is a look that should have died long ago, but the U.S. rolled it out along with a striped pink shirt that had, of all things, a dark blue collar. For shame.
Justin Thomas’s hole-out from the short-side bunker on the 14th hole, an exquisitely delicate play. With Louis Oosthuizen in tight for a sure birdie, Thomas’s clutch shot helped secure a 3 and 2 win. And it happened right in front of the Liberty National clubhouse, touching off the loudest roar of the day.
Jordan Spieth’s whiff on the 9th. In fairness, his ball was in a shaggy lie on the edge of a bunker atop which the Golden Child had to perch precariously to try to manufacture a swing. But bonus points to Spieth for sticking the landing when he tumbled into the sand after the whiff.
“Nice swing, Money.” — Spieth to Reed
“Dude, we spent $3,000 on dinner last night and you’re worried about buying three shirts?” — Overheard during a conversation between two (presumably well-heeled) pals in the merchandise tent
Most Inspired Pairing
Charley Hoffman/Kevin Chappell. This is how deep the U.S. squad is: Both of these dudes were benched yesterday but they steamrolled Schwartzel-Lahiri 6 and 5 to put the first American point on the board. It was a pairing defined by strong shotmaking and palpable chemistry; their macho Bash Bros. arm lock put a memorable exclamation point on the victory.
Most Second-Guessable Pairing
Hideki Matsuyama being sent out first with rookie Hadwin. The Internationals’ only hope this week was for their top-ranked player to put on a dominant performance. Matsuyama got waxed in the first match Thursday and was even worse today, with multiple water-balls and enough other loose shots that he completed only five of the first 16 holes. A gritty performance by Hadwin and subpar play from Spieth-Reed allowed the Internationals to somehow steal half a point, their only bright spot on a gloomy day.