Incheon (South Korea), Oct 10 (IANS) Leading Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri lost his Fourball match but home hero Sangmoon Bae maintained his magical run while Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace matched the best partnership record in the 11th Presidents Cup history on Saturday as the International Team trailed the United States by one point with Sunday’s Singles session remaining.
The Internationals, who have won the Presidents Cup only once in 10 editions, matched the Americans blow for blow as Saturday’s four Foursomes and four Fourball sessions ended in ties which left the US ahead by 9.5 to 8.5, the closest margin since 2005.
Asian Tour leader Lahiri, partnering Australian Adam Scott, lost two and three against Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson in the afternoon’s second tie at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea.
Grace and Oosthuizen, who grew up in the same area in South Africa, defeated Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed in their morning’s Foursome match before subduing Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes 1-up.
An inspired Bae, who is a multiple winner on the Asian Tour and PGA Tour, duly repaid captain Nick Price’s faith in selecting him as a pick by raising his points tally to 2.5 from three matches.
With partner Hideki Matsuyama, they halved their Foursome match with Bill Haas and Matt Kuchar, with Bae producing some spectacular shots including a chip-in birdie on the 15th hole after Kuchar had holed a long birdie putt to keep their match all square.
Later, the Asian duo teamed up again to soundly defeat Chris Kirk and Jimmy Walker six and five, with Bae knocking in three straight birdies from seven and Matsuyama contributing two birds immediately after the turn to gain the upperhand.
Bae, who will begin a mandatory two-year military service after the Presidents Cup, was estatic with his performance with Matsuyama. “I’m really glad to be here, because a lot of Korean people are coming out and supporting the International Team, it really means a lot,” he said in an Asian Tour release.
Price tipped his cap to his top performing duo, who tied Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker’s record of four wins in 2009. “They’ve been stars of our team. They’ve set the pace. Every day, they love being out in front and running out there. What a day of golf, some unbelievable golf played in conditions like a British Open with the cold and wind. The guys kept making birdies, it was phenomenal. Tomorrow, each and every one of my team members have to go out and play good golf,” the Zimbabwean icon said.
After the match, world No.40 Lahiri said he is is hoping to contribute on Sunday when he will face world No.27 Kirk in the singles match.
“I’ve got to find something on the greens that will make me comfortable. I’ve not even been near my ‘B’ putting game. It’s been terrible,” Lahiri said.
“Match play comes down to making putts. I heard Sangmoon and Hideki blitzed the course and they made everything they looked at. Rickie (Fowler) made everything when he played against us on Thursday,” the 28-year-old tournament debutant said.
“I didn’t feel I’m putting too bad … maybe just misreading it. Hopefully tomorrow will be a different story. I was disappointed to go down today. I’m hopeful that I can contribute tomorrow and we can pull off a memorable victory.”
Lahiri believes the Internationals will have a realistic chance of winning only for the second time in the Presidents Cup.
“We’re only one point behind. I guess that’s a good position to be in.”