The United States stretched its lead over the International Team to 8-2 at the 2017 Presidents Cup thanks to a strong showing in fourball matches Friday at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey.
The Red, White and Blue effort was led by a dominant performance from the pairing of Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell, who defeated Anirban Lahiri and Charl Schwartzel 6 and 5 to secure the United States' first point of the day.
Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler followed up by handling Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen 3 and 2, while Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson used a late push to down the pairing of Jhonattan Vegas and Adam Scott 3 and 2.
The internationals' only point came courtesy of a halved match that pit Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed against Adam Hadwin and Hideki Matsuyama.
A second half-point appeared to be within reach, but a clutch birdie putt from Phil Mickelson on the 18th handed him and Kevin Kisner a narrow win over Jason Day and Marc Leishman.
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
What a birdie! What a celebration! Phil Mickelson and @K_Kisner win the fourth match of the day for the U.S. Team. #QuickHits https://t.co/St7JGFqhpI2017-9-29 21:31:35
By winning 4.5 of five available points Friday, the United States is now sitting pretty entering the weekend as it eyes a seventh straight Presidents Cup win, according to ESPN.com's Jason Sobel:
Jason Sobel @JasonSobelESPN
United States goes 4-0-1 in today's matches. Leads 8-2 entering tomorrow -- and yes, mathematically possible to clinch it all before Sunday.2017-9-29 21:25:33
While the Americans separated themselves from their global rivals late, Golf Channel's Justin Ray noted the second day of competition set up nicely for the International Team based on the past decade-plus of competition:
Justin Ray @JustinRayGC
Internationals by session since 2005: 1st session: won/tied 1 time, -13 Pts differential 2nd session: won/tied 6 times, +5 Pts differential2017-9-29 18:28:36
And for a bit, it appeared as though the Internationals had a chance of keeping pace.
Hadwin and Matsuyama were two up on Spieth and Reed through 14 holes, a scoreline that put them in the driver's seat to extract a big point.
However, Spieth and Reed rattled off birdies on the next two holes two bring things all square.
An even 17th gave way to a dramatic 18th, and Spieth actually had a putt to win the match that lipped out, as the PGA Tour documented on Twitter:
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
.@JordanSpieth's putt to win the match on 18 ... Brutal. #QuickHits https://t.co/loalenNNHI2017-9-29 20:45:41
Elsewhere, Thomas and Fowler put on yet another clinic as they swiftly dispatched Grace and Oosthuizen.
The shot of that match came on the 14th, when Thomas holed out from the bunker to maintain a two-hole lead, as shown by Golf Channel:
Golf Channel @GolfChannel
Have. A. Day. @JustinThomas34 from the sand to the bottom of the cup 🎯🎯🎯 #PresidentsCup https://t.co/YjdxMgNU9O2017-9-29 19:57:54
Clutch shot-making was also en vogue on the 15th, when Dustin Johnson rolled in a birdie putt and showed some rare fire as he kept Vegas and Scott at bay, via the PGA Tour:
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
Big putt. BIGGER fist pump from @DJohnsonPGA. 2 up with 3 to play. https://t.co/cSPPQbEsbd2017-9-29 21:06:07
With a commanding lead, the United States will turn its attention to Day 3 as it attempts to pull off the improbable and secure a win before Sunday's action rolls around.
Play will resume Saturday with two sessions that blend the formats from Days 1 and 2.
The morning session will feature four foursome matches, while the afternoon festivities will take after Friday and feature four fourball matches.