CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Max HomaNever felt more energetic than a Friday putt, perhaps because he never had as many people to celebrate the occasion.
This is why he made the Presidents Cup his top priority this year. His latest afternoon heroics at Quail hollow exceeded all expectations.
The final fourballs match was tied at two holes with only two holes left. The green was surrounded by American players, caddies, captains, and their red carts. Homa walked toward the hole and slammed it when he hit a 12-foot birdie putt to give him a 1-up lead.
Then it got even better. Taylor PendrithHoma was clutch with her 15-foot birdie shot as the Internationals attempted to tie the game. Homa delivered another 12-foot birdie to win.
The matches felt closer. However, the outcome was not as expected. Homas big putsts at the end enabled the Americans win another session by a 4-1/1 margin, extending the lead to 8-2.
Homa said, It was pretty surreal, and improved to 2-0 in the debut. The atmosphere is crazy out there. You can feel the warmth of so many people that you can feel their backs on your neck.
Quail Hollow was packed with over 40,000 people on a beautiful autumn afternoon, with former Presidents Bill Clinton & George W. Bush among those who attended the course.
Five matches lasted 87 holes and the players had 67 birdies and 3 eagles. Three matches were even longer.
The International team could manage only two halves. It now faces a daunting task against a U.S. side that appears well on its way for a ninth consecutive win in this lopsided affair.
We feel like playing some pretty good golf. Some solid golf teeing-to-green particularly in the last couple days, International captain Trevor Immelman said. But we have definitely been out-putted. There is no doubt about it.
He was at the final match against Homa. Billy HorschelDropped key putts at the stretch. Pendrith made it look like he was going to win the last time he dropped his birdie. Corey ConnersHoma was just half-point away from escaping, but it was just as clutch.
Homa stated that although I was nervous about the putt, it was a lot of fun. I was telling my wife that money cant buy the feeling when we talk about things that money cant buy. That was something I will always remember and I will tell anyone who asks how it felt.
The powerful American team will be playing double on Saturday to have a mathematical chance of winning the cup for the second consecutive time.
There are four matches of foursomes/fourballs. The Americans would have to win seven and half the other matches to win the cup. It sounds unlikely except for the fact that they have foursomes and fourballs, and how they play.
International teams led only 10 of the 170 holes played over two days and 10 matches.
The 12 Americans are amongst the top 25 golfers in the world, and most of them are playing like it. The International team was put together by the Saudi-funded LIV Golf, which saw more players defect. Greg NormanFormer Presidents Cup captain.
Norman sent out the following: TweetA photo of the International team from 1998s lone win is included as a way to wish them well. Outside of all the angst – golf is always golf, competition is what every golfer thrives on.
Immelman responded with one of his replies: LOL.
Immelman stated, I pretty much say that its exactly how I think it, What I said was exactly how I was feeling when I saw that tweet. I laughed out loud.
A pair of dynamic partnerships was the key to the strength of Americas team. Patrick CantlayAnd Xander SchauffeleWe were 5-up at the turn, and easily held on for a win of 3-and-2 Hideki MatsuyamaAnd Tom Kim.
Spieth, Thomas were as usual, nothing but the best.
They were tied at 2 with five holes left when Thomas hit 6-iron, just inches from an ace on par-3 14th over water to a pin for birdie. Just when it seemed that the International side might be closer, Spieth was ready to show his skills.
His approach on the 15th was directed towards the stream, but it struck the rocks and carved over the green into rough. He chipped 15 feet and then putted to halve it.
The Spieth Thomas and Cantlay Schauffele teams are formed as much by their friendship as their games. They are 2-0 this week, and they are hard to beat no matter who the International team sends against them.
The Presidents Cup rookies were the ones who brought out the passion.
Horschel, who hasnt played for his country in the Walker Cup since 2007, said he felt sick for three hours prior to his match. Homa made it to the final match for the second day in a row, and was greeted by a large crowd both inside and outside the ropes.
Homa said, Its surreal having 10 of the greatest golfers I have ever seen in my lifetime watching you and its got to be a great feeling to help them. Its a heavy load. Its also very fun.