The matches felt a little closer Friday in the Presidents Cup. And then Max Homa made two big putts that gave the Americans the same outcome.
In the third straight fourballs match that went the distance, Homa poured in a 12-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole for a 1-up lead. After Taylor Pendrith gave the International team hope with a birdie on the 18th hole, Homa matched him with another 12-foot birdie putt for the win.
That gave the Americans another session by a 4-1 margin, stretching their lead to 8-2 going into the weekend in Charlotte, N.C., and making another US victory in this one-sided affair start to look inevitable.
For the second straight time on home soil, the powerful American team will go into a double session Saturday with a mathematical chance to win the cup.
Saturday is pivotal at every Presidents Cup, and it could be the last chance for the International team to get back into the game with four matches of foursomes in the morning and four matches of fourballs in the afternoon.
“This is insane,” Homa said after he and Billy Horschel outlasted the Canadian duo of Pendrith and Corey Conners. “To come down to the 18th two days in a row, man, what a day. Billy made some amazing putts. I just wanted to help him.”
Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were on hand at Quail Hollow Club, and while it looked for a moment as though the International team might make a game of it, the deficit at the end of the day was as daunting as ever.
The lone point for the International team came from two ties.
Scottie Scheffler had a 10-foot birdie putt for the win on the 18th, and only a few blades of grass kept it from dropping as he and Sam Burns halved the match with Sungjae Im and Sebastian Munoz.
Cameron Young had a 25-foot putt for the win that missed. He and Kevin Kisner settled for a half-point against Mito Pereira and Christiaan Bezuidenhout in the only match where the International team ever led.
The strength of the American team came from a pair of dynamic partnerships. Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele were 5 up at the turn and easily held on for a 3-and-2 win over Hideki Matsuyama and Tom Kim.
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas improved to 6-2 as a team in Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup matches, leading from the fourth hole in a 2-and-1 victory over the Australian pair of Adam Scott and Cameron Davis.
As usual, Spieth and Thomas were far from dull.
They were 2 up with five holes to play when Thomas hit 6-iron to 2 feet on the par-3 14th over water to a back pin for birdie. And right when it looked as though the International side might get closer, Spieth was up to his tricks.
His approach on the 15th — the 18th hole when Quail Hollow hosts the Wells Fargo Championship — was headed for the stream when it hit the rocks and caromed over the green into the rough. He chipped 15 feet by, and then holed that par to halve the hole.
The Spieth-Thomas and Cantlay-Schauffele teams, formed as much by friendship as their games, are 2-0 this week and are tough to beat no matter whom the International team sends out against them.
European — Rasmus Hojgaard moved six shots clear at the French Open after posting a 6-under 65 in the second round in Saint-Qunentin-en-Yvelines.
The Danish player and overnight leader had seven birdies at Le Golf National outside Paris to move to 15 under overall, with the only blemish a bogey on the fifth hole.
Frenchman Paul Barjon’s 3-under 68 moved him up from third to second. Barjon holed an eagle putt from 61 feet on the 14th hole and pleased the crowd as they stayed with him.
Yet Barjon could not stay with Hojgaard, who held a two-stroke overnight lead from Alexander Bjork of Sweden.
South African George Coetzee — a five-time European tour winner — fired a 66 to push himself up to third place, one stroke behind Barjon at 8 under.
Bjork, meanwhile, could manage only a par 71 and dropped to a tie for fourth at 7 under alongside Frenchman Antoine Rozner, who had five birdies on the front nine and carded 66.
LPGA — The LPGA and financial giant Mizuho Americas have announced a new tournament will be played next year at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City.
The 72-hole tournament will be called the Mizuho Americas Open and take place May 29- June 4. The event will have a purse of $2.75 million.
Michelle Wie West will serve as the tournament host at an event that will include 24 juniors competing in their own tournament at the same time.
The Mizuho Americas Open will be the first time Liberty National welcomes the LPGA Tour, after hosting several world-class events, including the Presidents Cup and multiple PGA Tour playoff stops.
The addition of the tournament means New Jersey will be the site of four events associated with the LPGA.
The Mizuho Americas Open will have a 120-player field. The American Junior Golf Association will have an AJGA Invitational for 24 players. It’s the first time the AJGA and the LPGA will play an event concurrently.