Korean golfer Choi Kyung-ju (center) and former U.S. President George W. Bush (left) share a light moment during the Presidents Cup on Thursday. (Yonhap News)
DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) ― The Americans survived a late rally Thursday and put the International team in a familiar hole at the Presidents Cup
Steve Stricker blasted out of a plugged lie in the face of a bunker to 3 feet to save par as he and 20-year-old Jordan Spieth hung on for a 1-up win in the final match on the course at Muirfield Village. That win gave the Americans a 3 1/2-2 1/2 lead, the fourth straight time they have led after the opening session in the Presidents Cup.
The Presidents Cup at least was close for one day, and it was entertaining beyond the golf.
Former President George W. Bush was on the first tee ― not the greatest omen because he also met with the Americans at Medinah before they coughed up the Ryder Cup ― and Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel made light of their bad haircuts by wearing wigs onto the tee.
Assistant captain Davis Love III found a pet squirrel small enough to fit into his pocket, and Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn gave Tiger Woods a brief scare when she put the squirrel on his back.
After all that, the Internationals have never been so happy to be trailing.
The Americans led in every match early in the session and were ahead in five of them when thunderstorms and a few bursts of rain stopped play for 1 1/2 hours.
None of the matches had gone more than 10 holes, though the delay at least gave the International team a sense of starting over.
“The break did us really good,” Oosthuizen said. “We came back out, felt refreshed and just played well.”
Jason Day and Graham DeLaet rallied from 3 down to Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker, winning on the 18th hole when Day made a 20-foot birdie putt. In the best match of the day, Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama battled from 2 down to Bill Haas and Webb Simpson with five holes to play to earn a halve when the 21-year-old Japanese star hit his approach to 2 feet for birdie on the last hole.
Oosthuizen and Schwartzel gave Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson their first loss.