Cup remains on a knife's edge

The Presidents Cup's score read 9.5-8.5 to the Americans, with Sunday’s 12 singles to come after both the Saturday foursomes and fourballs were shared 2-2.

Sang-Moon Bae (left) and Hideki Matsuyama of the International Team are all smiles on the 13th green after registering a victory over the U.S.   -  Getty Images

U.S. team member Phil Mickelson hits a shot from a rough on the 16th hole during the four ball matches.   -  REUTERS

International team player Anirban Lahiri of India plays out of a bunker on the 14th hole during his four ball match.   -  AP

South Korea’s Bae Sang-Moon and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama wrote themselves into Presidents Cup folklore on Saturday with a thumping fourball victory for the International team.

They blew away the American pair of Jimmy Walker and Chris Kirk 6 and 5 in the most accomplished display of better-ball golf of the week, during which they birdied an astonishing nine of the first 11 holes.

Only twice before has a match ended after fewer holes in Presidents Cup history. David Frost beat Kenny Perry of the U.S. 7 and 6 in 1996, while another Korean, K. J. Choi, partnered Adam Scott to a 7 and 6 victory over Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in 2011.

But the Presidents Cup remained on a knife-edge with the score 9.5-8.5 to the Americans, with Sunday’s 12 singles to come after both the Saturday foursomes and fourballs were shared 2-2.

Cheered on by massive galleries out to see their Korean golfing hero on a damp, cold, windy and overcast day at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, Bae slammed home three birdies in a row from the seventh to take the International team duo to four up.

“Early we were making a lot of birdies but not really getting ahead,” said Matsuyama. “Sang-Moon’s birdies on seven, eight and nine really got us going.”

Matsuyama, not to be outdone, rammed home two more on the 10th and 11th as the pair stormed to six up with seven to play.

“It was a joy to play with him and everyone was cheering us on,” added Matsuyama, who revealed the secret to their success.

“One advantage that we had is I don’t speak a lot of English, but Sang-Moon does speak Japanese, and that really helped our chemistry.”

Such was their dominance that when they halved the next hole to lie six up with six to play, Walker mistakenly offered a handshake thinking the Americans had already lost.

He didn’t have to wait long as the Asian pair closed it out on the next green to square the overall match score.

“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,” said Bae.

“Definitely we had a really, really good round today. You know, every time I hit every single shot or every putt, it’s a little nervous because everybody is looking at me,” said Bae about playing in front of his home crowd. It’s a lot of nerves but I have to play good. I’m really looking forward to playing singles tomorrow.”

The results (International team first):

Match score: International team 8.5 United States team 9.5

Afternoon fourballs

International team 2 United States team 2 (Branden Grace/Louis Oosthuizen beat Bubba Watson/J. B. Holmes by 1 hole, Adam Scott/Anirban Lahiri lost to Phil Mickelson/Zach Johnson 3 and 2, Bae Sang-Moon/Hideki Matsuyama beat Jimmy Walker/Chris Kirk 6 and 5, Jason Day/Charl Schwartzel lost to Patrick Reed/Jordan Spieth 3 and 2).

Morning foursomes

International team 2 United States team 2 (Branden Grace/Louis Oosthuizen beat Patrick Reed/Rickie Fowler 3 and 2, Adam Scott/Marc Leishman halved with Bubba Watson/J. B. Holmes, Bae Sang-Moon/Hideki Matsuyama halved with Bill Haas/Matt Kuchar, Jason Day/Charl Schwartzel lost to Dustin Johnson/Jordan Spieth by 1 hole).