SAN FRANCISCO — The United States team takes a one-point lead into Friday’s four-ball matches. Here’s how Sports Illustrated’s Gary Van Sickle sees them shaping up. (Feel free to ignore the fact that his forecast for Thursday’s matches went horribly, horribly wrong.)
(All times Eastern)
Retief Goosen-Adam Scott (Int.) vs. Phil Mickelson-Justin Leonard (U.S.) 1:55 p.m.
Scott shook off his slump and actually played pretty well to help win a point Thursday. If he needed a shot of confidence, he got it. Mickelson can play his power game while Leonard hits fairways and greens, so they should be a very good combination. Still, Scott has the chance to be the story of this Presidents Cup after his recent struggles, and you can almost sense him rising to the challenge.
The pick: Scott and Goosen score a crucial point
Ernie Els-Mike Weir (Int.) vs. Jim Furyk-Anthony Kim (U.S.) 2:07 p.m.
It’s obvious from the captains’ pairings that the strategy is to pair power hitters with finesse players. While Harding Park is an iron player’s course, it is short enough to be overpowered by a big hitter. Combining them is the way to go. Els struggled on the greens Thursday; Weir hit some nice wedges. Kim came on strong at the finish.
The pick: Els and Weir in a close one
Ryo Ishikawa-Y.E. Yang (Int.) vs. Kenny Perry-Sean O’Hair (U.S.) 2:19 p.m.
Let’s face it, very few 18-year-olds in their first team match are going to look good against a relaxed Tiger Woods. Still, Ishikawa held his own Thursday, as did Yang in his match. O’Hair missed a few short putts, but I look for him to bounce back to prove, and earn, a point.
The pick: O’Hair and Perry
Vijay Singh-Tim Clark (Int.) vs. Lucas Glover-Stewart Cink (U.S.) 2:31 p.m.
Singh was pretty solid in his win with Allenby on Thursday, while Clark struggled in his loss with Weir. Glover and Cink may have let a point slip away late in their first match, but their games are well-suited to this course. They also have a clear edge in putting.
The pick: Glover and Cink
Robert Allenby-Camilo Villegas (Int.) vs. Zach Johnson-Hunter Mahan (U.S.) 2:43 p.m.
Allenby played a superlative round Thursday and even holed several big putts. Johnson came up big in his opening win with Perry. The advantage goes to the power hitters.
The pick: Allenby and Villegas
Geoff Ogilvy-Angel Cabrera (Int.) vs. Steve Stricker-Tiger Woods (U.S.) 2:55 p.m.
Here’s your showcase match of the Presidents Cup, the Internationals’ best duo against the Americans’ strongest team (since Mickelson and Tiger aren’t going to join forces). Cabrera looked a little off his stride in the opening match, and Ogilvy suffered some close misses with the putter. These two guys aren’t going to be intimidated, but Woods and Stricker are on a roll.
The pick: Woods and Stricker
Friday’s total score: U.S. 3, Internationals 3