Commentary

Saturday foursomes analysis

Updated: September 30, 2007, 6:59 AM ET
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

With his U.S. side leading all five Saturday morning foursomes matches just two days after compiling a 5-0-1 record against the International team in the very same format, captain Jack Nicklaus was asked by a TV reporter to explain why his players have been faring so well in alternate shot.

"I don't know what it is," he said. When prodded for further explanation, Nicklaus admitted, "Oh, it's the magic pairings of the captain."

Jack made the comment with a wry smile, but really, how else can we explain the American team's domination in foursomes during the Presidents Cup? The U.S. won all five of the second Presidents Cup foursomes session, running their record to 10-0-1 in the format and bringing the overall lead to 12-5 entering the afternoon four-ball.

Zach Johnson said it best, when asked to discern why the U.S. fared so well in alternate shot: "It's just a matter of getting some momentum and keeping it. That's the beauty of team match play.

There was a lot of beauty for the U.S. team on Saturday morning. Let's break down all five matches:

Steve Stricker/Hunter Mahan, U.S. defeat Rory Sabbatini/Trevor Immelman, International -- 2-up
This was a back-and-forth match that featured a 2-up lead for the Internationals through just three holes, only to lose four of the next 11. The U.S. pair didn't make a birdie all match until the 14th, when Stricker rolled in a 35-foot putt to win the hole. If there was an MVP through three sessions of the tournament so far, it's Stricker. Playing in his first international competition since 1996, he's the only player at 3-0-0, building on his strong recent run in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
U.S. AS AS 1up 1up 2up 2up 2up 1up 2up
Int'l 1up 2up 2up 2up 1up 1up 1up 1up 1up


Phil Mickelson/Woody Austin, U.S. defeat Retief Goosen/Stuart Appleby, International -- 5 and 4
The legend of Woody Austin continues to grow. The Presidents Cup rookie remained undefeated as he and Mickelson made easy work of the usually formidable International duo, who displayed some terrible play in this one. Goosen and Appleby won only one hole and carded six bogeys in the 14-hole match. Of course, Austin's plunge into the lake bordering the 14th green was still all the rage one day later. "I've got a great partner here in Aquaman and how fitting it was to finish on his hole," Mickelson said. "He's our team leader and it's been a lot of fun playing with him." The victory was Mickelson's first in his last nine international matches.
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
U.S. AS AS AS AS 1up 2up 1up 2up 2up 3up 3up 3up 4up 5&4
Int'l


Tiger Woods/Jim Furyk, U.S. defeat Ernie Els/Adam Scott, International -- 4 and 3
Now that's more like it. One day after getting thumped in their four-ball match together, Woods and Furyk -- the world's No. 1- and 3-ranked players, respectively -- got back to business as usual. The Americans won the opening hole with a par and never looked back, making five birdies during the match. But they were aided by the inconsistent putting of Els and Scott, both of whom still seem to be struggling to figure out the Royal Montreal greens three days into the competition. "They had their opportunities," Furyk said. "They just couldn't get some putts to go in to halve the match and then we kind of pulled away on the back nine." Woods upped his career Presidents Cup foursomes record to 7-2-1.
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
U.S. 1up 1up 2up 1up 2up 2up 2up 2up 2up 2up 2up 3up 3up 4up 4&3
Int'l


Scott Verplank/Lucas Glover, U.S. defeat Vijay Singh/Mike Weir, International -- 2 and 1
Just call this one the Lucas Glover Show. By far the least accomplished of the four players and the only rookie in this match, Glover showed some steely resolve in helping the U.S. to a full point. From the 10-foot birdie putt that won the seventh hole to the sublime approach shot to 1 foot that won the ninth hole to the bunker shot to 4 feet that won the 12th hole, Glover outclassed the pair of former Masters champs in blue and got enough help from the ever-steady Verplank to win this one. "Guys like Scott make it more fun, keep me calm and just get me into my game," Glover said, "so it's been a great week."
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
U.S. AS AS AS AS AS 1up 1up 2up 2up 3up 2up 2up 2&1
Int'l 1up 1up 1up 1up


Zach Johnson/David Toms, U.S. defeat Geoff Ogilvy/Nick O'Hern, International -- 2 and 1
It's not too difficult to find a turning point in this match. After finding themselves 3-down through 10 holes, the Internationals squared the match four holes later, thanks to an eagle chip-in from O'Hern. But the U.S. team would get their revenge on the next hole, as Toms chipped in for birdie to take the 15th hole and they never looked back from there. "We gave a couple back there on the back nine," Toms said. "They had the momentum until we chipped in over there on 15."
Hole 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
U.S. AS AS 1up 2up 2up 2up 3up 2up 1up 1up AS 1up 1up 2&1
Int'l 1up 1up 1up

Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.