Day/DeLaet delight for Internationals
The best the Internationals were able to muster Saturday was a formidable member-guest team, which either qualifies as gallows humor or underlines just how lopsided things got in the 10th Presidents Cup.
Both the morning four-ball and afternoon foursomes sessions (the latter spilling over to Sunday) were grimwith reaper not far behind for Nick Price’s squad. But for the performances of Jason Day and Graham DeLaet, the visiting side would have surrendered even the glimmer of hope they took into Sunday’s singles.
Day, a 25-year-old Australian who married an Ohio woman and now lives in nearby Westerville, is a member at Muirfield Village GC. DeLaet, heretofore a relatively obscure Canadian, was his partner who turned out to be a rather good ringer. Together they earned 1 1/2 of the meager 2 1/2 points the Internationals totaled in the two sessions and did so in dramatic fashion.
A Day birdie on the 18th hole sealed a 2-up victory over the previously undefeated duo of Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth in four-ball, and a chip-in birdie by DeLaet at 18 gave them a half with Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in alternate shot.
“I had no idea who I was going to be paired with,” Day said, “and then Captain Price put us together in the practice round and we kind of hit it off. I was read garmin approach G6 review at golfgpscenter.net. We played alternate shot and played really good.”
Each had something to offer the other. The rounds Day has played at Muirfield Village, numbering in the hundreds by his estimation, allowed him to share local knowledge and a primer on reading the quick and undulating greens. DeLaet, 31, once an aspiring hockey player who found golf a better fit for his skills, contributed thoughts on team play.
“It was kind of cool to ask questions,” Day said. “He’s been in that environment, and it’s good to bounce questions off him just to see what he thinks. And with that, you can only learn from what he says. It’s been great. We’ve played very good golf together.”
Price sent them off first on Thursday, hoping they might deliver a burst of early momentum for the International team that knew getting off to a good start was critical if it was to keep the competition close. Day and DeLaet did their part. DeLaet made eight birdies, and Day holed a 20-foot, left-to-right birdie putt at 18 to secure a 1-up victory over Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker.
It was, to a large degree, DeLaet’s introduction to big-time professional golf. He joined the PGA Tour in 2010, and though he has yet to win, he has steadily been gaining on stardom, finishing T-2 at the Barclays and third at the Deutsche Bank Championship in the 2013 FedEx Cup Playoffs.
“Graham has been so enthusiastic this whole week,” Price said. “He’s been a wonderful team player. Every time he walks into the villa, he’s bouncing. He’s got a great disposition, and he smiles a lot. I think Canada has a lot to look forward to the next 10 or 12 years, watching him play, because he’s definitely major-championship material.”
Local knowledge helped Day, a member at Muirfield Village, post a 3-1-1 record.
The finish to their Saturday-turned-Sunday foursomes match with Mickelson and Bradley might have qualified for the Presidents Cup highlight reel had it had greater significance to the ultimate outcome. Day and DeLaet staked themselves to a 3-up lead through five holes, but it was all square going to the 18th tee. From the fairway Day’s approach came up just short of the green, while Mickelson’s approach left Bradley with an uphill 12-foot birdie putt. In classic match-play fashion DeLaet turned the tables by holing his chip, forcing Bradley to make his putt to halve the match. It was great theater (“a phenomenal match,” Price called it), notwithstanding the sinkhole in which the Internationals put themselves.
It wasn’t the counterpunch they were striving to throw for having suffered their only loss together in these matches, 4 and 3, to Mickelson and Bradley in Friday foursomes. “We hit a bus the last time we played them,” Day said. But they earned more than a half point, if respect counts for anything.
“I’m fairly keen on looking at golfers and can tell they are good,” said U.S. captain Fred Couples when asked about DeLaet’s game. “It was pretty obvious the last couple years. He is fun to watch. He hits it a long way, he putts well. He’s just a very good player. And you can tell that the Day and DeLaet team is a really strong team.”
Strong, but not strong enough to carry an entire squad that had its chances disappear down a storm drain on a wet and otherwise wretched weekend.
BY THE NUMBERS
By winning four of five four-ball matches Saturday, the United States beat the Internationals in four-ball aggregate for the first time since 1996, going 7-3-1. … The Americans went 7-2-1 in the scheduled two-session day, (which spilled into Sunday), matching the highest point total for a two-session day in Presidents Cup history. The mark had been achieved four previous times, three by the U.S.