Marathon Saturday will go long way towards deciding victor at Muirfield Village

Lyons/Getty Images
Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth are on the verge of their second consecutive win.
October 04, 2013
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM

DUBLIN, Ohio -- The first two days of The Presidents Cup have lasted longer than scheduled due to rainy conditions.

Saturday promises to be an even longer day for the players.

The completion of four Foursomes matches that were suspended due to darkness on Friday will be the first order of business, starting at 7:35 a.m. ET. Five Four-ball matches will follow. After that? Five more Foursomes matches, weather and daylight permitting.

"Time to go rest up," said International star Adam Scott.

How early will the day start for the players? U.S. Captain Fred Couples will have the team bus ready to move out at 5 a.m. ET.

Tournament director Steve Carman remains hopeful that The Presidents Cup will get back on schedule by the end of Saturday, leaving the focus Sunday on the 12 singles matches.

The Four-ball pairings will be announced at 8 a.m. ET, with the session expected to start at 8:33 a.m., about an hour behind the original schedule.

"That would still give us the opportunity to finish both rounds before dark," Carman said.

Saturday will not only be a grueling day, but a potentially decisive one.

With the potential of 14 points on the line, either team could carve out a big lead with any kind of sustained momentum.

But thus far, this Presidents Cup remains a tight one. The U.S. leads 4.5 to 3.5 after the two completed matches late Friday night.

Of the four matches left, the Americans hold 3-up leads in two, and the Internationals led 4 up and 1 up in the other two. A 2-1/2 hour rain delay Friday prevented those matches from being completed.

If those advantages hold, the Americans would remain ahead by a point going into the Four-ball matches, which is traditionally the stronger format for the International Team.

"If we can tie this thing up at the end of tomorrow morning's play, that would be absolutely perfect for us," said Internationals Captain Nick Price. "But there is a lot of golf left."

Even so, Couples likes how things have gone for his side. "We're in great shape," he said.

With just five matches per session, the two captains will have to sit out two players each time.

Phil Mickelson, at age 43, might be one of those players, although he'll get some extra rest thanks to his 4 & 3 win with partner Keegan Bradley over the Internationals' Jason Day and Graham DeLaet in the first match of the session.

"It is nice now that we're done, being able to have a little extra time in the morning while the others go out and play," Mickelson said.

Mickelson has the Presidents Cup experience of any American player. Ernie Els has the most of any International player, and he'll get to sleep in, too, thanks to a 4 & 3 win with Brendon de Jonge over Hunter Mahan and Bill Haas.

As for everybody else? Here's the status of the four matches in progress:

Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth are 3-up over Branden Grace and Richard Sterne through 14 holes. The Americans have led that match since the third hole.

"We are in good shape, but we have to finish it off tomorrow, bright and early," Stricker said.

The International duo of Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman were down early but now lead Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker 1 up through 13 holes.

"We do need to finish this one off four ourselves and the team," Leishman said. "I think it will be really good momentum for us if we can get across the line. There's no reason why not."

Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar have led the entire match against Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel and are 3 up through 12 holes. Woods and Kuchar birdied six of their first seven holes, while the South Africans had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the front nine.

"Just incredible golf," Kuchar said. "These guys are really giving us a great match. They are playing good golf as well."

Added Woods: "Still got our work cut out for us."

Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama have the Internationals 4 up over Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson through 11 holes. Scott and Matsuyama have already finished playing the 12th hole with a par, and Dufner will have a short putt to halve the hole first thing Saturday.