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Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Internationals could make some early singles gains

Leishman can rally for humbled visitors

Marc Leishman won the BMW Championship last month
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Story so far

The United States lead the Internationals 14.5-3.5 after three days of Presidents Cup action at Liberty National, New Jersey, the home side requiring just one more point for victory.

Just a half-point from the 12 Sunday singles would guarantee the States retain the Cup through a 15-15 draw, but they are obviously likely to chalk considerably more points than that on the board.

The States even showed mercy on their battered opponents, the last act of Saturday being Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman conceding a slippery, downhill, four-foot putt to Anirban Lahiri. The score would have been 15-3 had Lahiri, who cost the Internationals dear in the last competition, missed that knee-knocker. The Americans generously elected not to put the Indian through the potential agony of another dancefloor disaster.

Bookmakers have shut up shop on the outright betting. Punters who feasted on the pre-tournament 3-10 USA are ready to collect, and those who chanced an emphatic correct-score margin are in a strong position.

The Internationals took just half a point from the Saturday morning foursomes, courtesy of Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen, while Lahiri and Si Woo Kim secured their only point in the afternoon fourballs. The States have won every session convincingly, leaving the Internationals playing for nothing but pride on Sunday.

Dustin Johnson is the leading points scorer going into the singles, the world number won claiming four points from four matches, but he faces a tough singles contest against Grace.

First-day foursomes results

Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler beat Charl Schwartzel and Hideki Matsuyama 6&4

Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson beat Jhonattan Vegas and Adam Scott one up

Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth beat Emiliano Grillo and Si Woo Kim 5&4

Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka lost to Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen 3&1

Phil Mickelson and Kevin Kisner halved with Marc Leishman and Jason Day

Day-two fourballs results

Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth halved with Adam Hadwin and Hideki Matsuyama

Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler beat Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen 3&2

Kevin Kisner and Phil Mickelson beat Marc Leishman and Jason Day one-up

Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell beat Anirban Lahiri and Charl Schwartzel 6&5

Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson beat Jhonattan Vegas and Adam Scott 3&2

Day-three foursomes results

Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed beat Marc Leishman and Jason Day 4&3

Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson beat Adam Hadwin and Adam Scott 4&3

Kevin Kisner and Phil Mickelson beat Emiliano Grillo and Jhonattan Vegas 2&1

Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas halved with Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen

Day-three fourballs results

Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed beat Jason Day and Louis Oosthuizen 2&1

Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger beat Hideki Matsuyama and Jhonattan Vegas 3&2

Anirban Lahiri and Si Woo Kim beat Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell one up

Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka beat Branden Grace and Marc Leishman 3&2

Top scorers

USA

1 D Johnson (4)
T2 P Reed, J Spieth, J Thomas (3.5)
T5 R Fowler, K Kisner, P Mickelson (2.5)
T8 M Kuchar, B Koepka (2)
T10 K Chappell, C Hoffman, D Berger (1)

Internationals

T1 B Grace, L Oosthuizen (1.5 points)
T3 A Lahiri, S W Kim (1)
T5 M Leishman, J Day, A Hadwin, H Matsuyama (0.5)
T9 C Schwartzel, J Vegas, A Scott, E Grillo (0)

Singles line-up

5.04pm Kevin Chappell versus Marc Leishman
5.15 Charley Hoffman versus Jason Day
5.26 Justin Thomas versus Hideki Matsuyama
5.37 Daniel Berger versus Si Woo Kim
5.48 Matt Kuchar versus Charl Schwartzel
5.59 Patrick Reed versus Louis Oosthuizen
6.10 Dustin Johnson versus Branden Grace
6.21 Brooks Koepka versus Adam Scott
6.32 Jordan Spieth versus Jhonattan Vegas
6.43 Kevin Kisner versus Anirban Lahiri
6.54 Phil Mickelson versus Adam Hadwin
7.05 Rickie Fowler versus Emiliano Grillo

Today's advice

The Internationals need to win all 12 singles matches to lift the Presidents Cup and there is more chance of a pig flying past the Statue of Liberty this evening than visiting captain Nick Price parading silverware.

Price will probably task his team with winning the singles – taking 6.5 points or better from the final session would be a small act of defiance – but whether his charges have the fight in them for that is open to question.

Jason Day was particularly candid in his post-match interview on Saturday night, chuckling at the prospect of “getting up” for the singles. “Well, we have to get up,” replied Day, referring to the process of getting out of bed and fulfilling their fixture obligations. Most of the Internationals have been hating every minute of this, facing a superstar line-up in front of extremely partisan crowds, and the visitors are desperate to get on a plane home.

Racing Post Sport followers had three ante-post wagers on the competition, and all are still in with a chance of success. Patrick Reed (tied second) and Branden Grace (tied first) still have high hopes of being top scorer for their side, while the 21-9 correct-score selection also has a sniff of landing a 66-1 payout.

Can the Internationals find a way of getting 5.5 points from the 12 available today? It seems unlikely. The bottom section of the singles card looks like a doddle for the Americans, so any International gains need to come early.

Matches one, four and five appear the best opportunities for the Internationals to register full points. Marc Leishman, full of confidence since winning a FedEx Cup playoffs event in style a fortnight ago, has beaten Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth in his previous two Presidents Cup singles outings. Leishman can account for Kevin Chappell in the opening joust (5.04pm).

Si Woo Kim can take great heart from the way he battled alongside Anirban Lahiri to win that late fourballs point on Saturday. There was a serious threat that the Internationals would lose the Cup a day early for the first time in the history of the competition, but Kim and Lahiri responded manfully to the pressure.

Kim can build on that confidence-boosting effort by seeing off Daniel Berger in the 5.37pm match. Berger also won his first Cup point yesterday, but he was heavily reliant on playing partner Justin Thomas. Kim has a strong temperament, as he proved when winning at Sawgrass in May, and can overcome his brash opponent.

Charl Schwartzel is yet to sparkle this week, but professional pride should overwhelm the South African in the singles, and the former Masters champion is more than capable of beating Kuchar in match five. If they both play to their best, Schwartzel wins.

If Day can find some desire and focus overnight, the former world number one is obviously capable of taking something from his match against Charley Hoffman, while Branden Grace is unlikely to roll over easily for Dustin Johnson in their heavyweight clash.

Sadly, the other seven matches look set to provide more American glory, particularly the final five. Brooks Koepka, Spieth, Kevin Kisner, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler could quickly rattle five late points on the board for the Yanks.

Generous concessions on the greens with the Cup won may provide some mercy for the Internationals in those later matches, but the States will be eying up a record-breaking winning margin. They won by 11 points in 2000, so 11.5 or better is a target which captain Steve Stricker may have set them.

Recommendations
M Leishman to beat K Chappell
2pts 5-6 Betway

S W Kim to beat D Berger
1pt 15-8 Betway

C Schwartzel to beat M Kuchar
1pt 11-8 Betfair, Power

USA to win singles 8-4
1pt 9-1 Sky Bet

Branden Grace is unlikely to roll over easily for Dustin Johnson in their heavyweight clash
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