JERSEY CITY, September 30
Anirban Lahiri had an afternoon to forget as he and his International teammates were left humbled by a rampaging United States who grabbed a commanding 8-2 lead on Friday in the Presidents Cup.
Lahiri and partner South African Charl Schwartzel absorbed the worst beating as Presidents Cup rookies Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell administered a 6&5 thrashing to collect the first US point of the day.
Hoffman and Chappell, who sat out Thursday’s opening foursomes, came out flying, 3-up after four holes.
The Internationals, meanwhile, stumbled out of the starting blocks with India’s Lahiri disqualified from playing the third hole after taking a practice shot out of the bunker at the second.
Players are allowed to practise putting after the holes have been determined but cannot practise shots from anywhere else on the course.
“I think it was just an oversight on his part,” said International captain Nick Price. “He’s obviously trying to prove to all of us that his pick was worth it and it’s put a lot of pressure on him.”
Price may have been sympathetic but he had no time to ease Lahiri, one of his captain’s picks, out of his 0-4-0 funk and benched him for Saturday’s foursomes.
“I think today he showed that he was very tight out there,” said Price. “Just trying to get him to loosen up and play golf and not be so worried about the fact that he’s got to prove something to us. He doesn’t have to do that. We chose him. The captains and I and a lot of the team members chose him.”
“But it’s hard. He really wants to do well and you can see it in his attitude and the strain in his face. He’s having a tough time at the moment.”
Under the gaze of the Statue of Liberty, the US have been domineering hosts, winning four of five four-ball matches and halving the other to the delight of a giddy home crowd. The US have won nine of 11 Presidents Cups, including the last six, and if the International team is to end the drought, it will have to overturn the biggest US advantage ever after Day 2 of the biennial competition.
So complete has been the United States dominance that they can clinch the Cup on Saturday, leaving Sunday’s singles nothing more than dead rubbers.
“I think we saw the strength of the US team come out today,” said Price.
Phil ties Woods for most wins
With the sun setting over the Manhattan skyline, Phil Mickelson, who has played in every edition of the Presidents Cup, dropped a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-3 18th to clinch a one-up victory for himself and partner Kevin Kisner over Australians Jason Day and Marc Leishman, sparking wild cheers from his teammates and fans packed around the finishing hole. For Mickelson it was his 24th Presidents Cup victory, tying him with Tiger Woods for the most all-time. — Reuters