6 reasons behind the USA's massive lead at the Presidents Cup
Friday certainly produced more drama than the opening session on Thursday, but the United States still emerged with a commanding 8-2 lead after Day 2 at the Presidents Cup.
The six-point gap matches the record for largest after two sessions in event history and has the massive favorite on track to comfortably claim their 12th Presidents Cup.
Here are six reasons why the Americans have been able to build their huge advantage at Quail Hollow.
Xander/Cantlay runaway train
Holes 17 and 18 at Quail Hollow this week are set up to be pressure-packed, ensuring a thrilling finish in the match-play format. Just don't ask Xander Schauffele or Patrick Cantlay about them - the duo has yet to hit a shot on those two holes over two sessions.
After absolutely shellacking Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama 6&5 on Thursday, the duo handled the Japanese star and Tom Kim on Friday with a 4&2 victory. A bogey-free 4-under total in foursomes play was impressive, and the American pair only further floored the accelerator in the more scoring-friendly four-ball format.
The pair finished with a 6-under total through 16 holes of action, meaning the duo has played 29 holes through two sessions and won 14 of them. Combine that with their performance at the 2021 Ryder Cup, and you have one of the most dominant team performances ever.
Top International players struggle
Due to the defections to LIV Golf, only five members of the International team find themselves inside the top 30 of the OWGR. Through two sessions of play, Sungjae Im's half point on Friday is the only success the group has had.
Matsuyama ran into the buzzsaw of Cantlay and Schauffele in both sessions to sit 0-2 for the event, while Tom Kim, Corey Conners, and Adam Scott also sit winless through two sessions. Im is the rare International player who has played well, with the Korean star supplying numerous moments of brilliance to tie his match versus the red-hot American duo of Sam Burns and Scottie Scheffler.
The International team, with an average world ranking of 48 compared to 11 for the Americans, needs the top players to deliver to have any chance at the upset - but that hasn't been the case through two sessions in Charlotte.
Spieth/JT on brand
The ability to ham-and-egg with your partner is crucial to any successful pairing in team golf, and there are few duos better at that than Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas. The two, who entered play on Friday with a sparkling 16-2-3 record in team play at the Presidents Cup, used that strategy to perfection to dispatch Adam Scott and Cameron Davis.
Spieth carried the pair the majority of the day, with his score counting on 13 holes in the match. However, Thomas was absolutely brilliant when needed, including three birdies on the four par 3s at Quail Hollow. The best was his near-ace on the 230-yard 14th, with his birdie pushing the duo to a 2-up lead they would not relinquish.
Americans answer the bell
After holding a lead following just three of 83 holes on Thursday, the Internationals turned in a much better performance on Friday but were unable to fully capitalize on it. Whenever the underdogs were seemingly about to win a hole and seize momentum, the Americans responded with a moment of brilliance to quell that charge.
Perhaps the best example came in Friday's match pitting Burns and Scheffler versus Im and Sebastian Munoz. The Korean star supplied multiple moments of excellence down the stretch, only for the Americans to match on back-to-back holes.
The final scores were matching best-ball 9-under 62's to share the point. That would have been good enough to top any other American team on the day, but unfortunately for Im and the Internationals, the draw was unkind on Friday.
Internationals' front-nine woes
With the massive discrepancy in talent on either roster, the Presidents Cup has felt as if it ended barely after it started. Each day's action has also had a similar feeling due to the International team's struggles in the opening nine. The Americans have dominated that stretch, winning 33 holes while the Internationals have won just 14.
The Cantlay-Schauffele duo has crushed the competition over that stretch, shooting 10-under over the two sessions. If the International team has any hope of getting back into the competition, the players need a red-hot start to both sessions on Saturday.
Max Homa, the closer
If the last five days in the golfing world have shown us one thing, it's that you want no part of Max Homa on the closing stretch of a golf course. The 31-year-old arrived at his first team event fresh off an insane walk-off chip-in to win the Fortinet Championship last weekend, bringing that clutch play with him to Charlotte.
After helping to close out a full point on Thursday with some clutch shot-making over the final three holes, Homa made back-to-back birdies on the 17th and 18th on Friday, breaking the tie with Canadian duo Taylor Pendrith and Conners.
Homa's ability to close moved the scoreline from a possible 7-3 American advantage to the 8-2 edge they hold heading to the weekend.
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