The United States holds a massive 8-2 lead over the International Team in the 2017 Presidents Cup after a dominant showing in Friday's fourball matches at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Team USA earned 4.5 of a possible five points during the day's action. The American tandem of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth drew their fixture against Adam Hadwin and Hideki Matsuyama, but the other four U.S. pairs all secured a full point.
The United States needs just 7.5 points over the next two days to retain the Cup for the seventh consecutive time. The International side must win 13.5 of the remaining 21 points to emerge victorious for the first time since 1998.
Friday Results (4.5 USA — 0.5 International)
Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth vs. Adam Hadwin and Hideki Matsuyama: Halved
Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler def. Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen: 3 and 2
Kevin Kisner and Phil Mickelson def. Marc Leishman and Jason Day: 1 Up
Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell def. Anirban Lahiri & Charl Schwartzel: 6 and 5
Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson def. Jhonattan Vegas and Adam Scott: 3 and 2
Day 2 Recap
Although Reed and Spieth were the only U.S. duo who failed to pick up a win Friday, they fought back late to salvage a half-point that may prove important in the end. They were two down with four to play before a Reed birdie on No. 15 and a Spieth birdie on No. 16 got them back level.
The late surge sullied an otherwise strong showing by Hadwin and Matsuyama. The International twosome caught fire in the middle of the match, recording five birdies in a nine-hole stretch to grab a two-up lead, but it wasn't quite enough.
Golf Channel highlighted one of the few bright moments for the International Team on Friday:
Golf Channel @GolfChannel
Dead. Center. Matsuyama and Hadwin move to 2-up in their match against Spieth/Reed. #PresidentsCup https://t.co/BkrTqmsGvJ2017-9-29 18:00:00
Mickelson and Kisner narrowly escaped a serious challenge from Day and Leishman in the only other match to come down to the final hole. A Leishman birdie on the first gave the Internationals an immediate lead, which they held all the way until the 15th hole.
Once again, a late American charge made the difference, though. Kisner got the U.S. back on even terms with a birdie on No. 15. Then, after the teams exchanged pars over the next two holes, Lefty came up with a clutch putt for the win.
The PGA Tour spotlighted Mickelson's heroics:
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
Thomas and Fowler, who scored a 6 and 4 triumph over Charl Schwartzel and Matsuyama in Thursday's foursomes, were on target again throughout Friday's play. They got out in front with a Fowler birdie on the third hole and never looked back en route to the routine win.
Golf Channel showcased a Shot of the Day candidate from Thomas:
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
Scott and Vegas were competitive throughout their loss to Johnson and Koepka. They were one-up for three holes on the front nine and only one down on four of the back nine, but the big-hitting Americans won two straight holes with birdies to close it out.
Vegas did everything he could to get his team in it, as the PGA Tour noted:
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
Think @JhonattanVegas wants to win the @PresidentsCup? His reaction says it all. #QuickHits https://t.co/iLlULsrL0d2017-9-29 20:33:00
Hoffman and Chappell don't carry the same name recognition as many of their Team USA teammates, but they were unstoppable Friday. They won the first two holes, led by five at the end of the front nine and cruised to the finish line.
Jason Sobel of ESPN.com discussed the problems that creates for the International Team:
Jason Sobel @JasonSobelESPN
Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman had never played on a U.S. team, both sat out yesterday and just won, 6 & 5. This U.S. team is deeeeep.2017-9-29 20:16:05
The United States is a definite favorite heading into the weekend thanks to its sizable lead and the clear talent gap. The Americans could even challenge the record for most team points in a Presidents Cup, which Team USA set in 2000 with 21.5.