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Americans hold healthy lead despite rain delay

ESPN staff
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Zach Johnson celebrates with Jason Dufner after holing out for eagle on the 15th hole © Getty Images
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The Presidents Cup has a familiar feel in so many ways.

Players leave every night in darkness and resume matches the next morning when it's almost as dark. The rain never leaves, with another half-inch accumulating on top of a previous inch of rain that led to yet another delay Saturday. The ball doesn't bounce when it lands on the green - it splats.

And the International team is still trying to figure out what it has to do to beat the Americans. When another long day ended at Muirfield Village, the Americans were assured of the lead going into the final round of singles matches. Zach Johnson took care of that with a wedge from 115 yards that disappeared into the cup for eagle on the 15th hole as he and Jason Dufner completed the only foursomes match with a 4-and-3 victory.

Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar were doing their part, having won every match they played. Woods delivered another signature moment in the Presidents Cup, hitting a fairway metal that plopped down four feet below the pin for an eagle that was conceded and a two-up lead that allowed them to rally for a fourballs win earlier Saturday.

Woods and Kuchar were two down at the turn in their foursomes match against Ernie Els and Brendon de Jonge.

"This guy is a horse - holy cow!" Kuchar said. "He played some incredible golf today." Still to be determined was how big the lead was going to be.

The other four matches were to be completed Sunday morning - weather permitting - and the Americans were leading 11½-6½. They were two up in one match, while the Internationals were three up and two up in two others. The fourth match was all square, momentum on the American side.

"Well, it's not over," International captain Nick Price said. "We've still got a lot of golf to play tomorrow, and I have the utmost confidence in these guys that they can turn those two games around. We don't want to go into the singles with too much of a deficit.

"The U.S. has really been unrelenting. They have just played superbly the last three days. Any slip from us and we find ourselves one or two down very quickly." The final hour was another example of that.

Early in the foursomes session, the board was filled with blue International scores on the front nine. Steve Stricker and Bill Haas warmed up their putters and went from one-down to a two-up lead through 10 holes. Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, who rallied earlier in a fourballs match to win, were three down through seven holes when Mickelson made two big putts that led to them squaring the match through 14 holes.

Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel were three up over Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker through 12 holes.

"We're still in pretty good shape," Price said. "If we can turn one of these games around tomorrow, it would make our life a lot easier going into singles."

But not that easy. The Americans have a 5-1-3 advantage in the singles session at the Presidents Cup, the only loss coming in 2007 at Royal Montreal when they started the final round with a seven-point lead.

Sunday's forecast calls for more rain, leading to the possibility of a Monday finish. Tournament regulations stipulate that the 34-match event does not go beyond Monday. Any match not completed by sundown Monday would be voided, and the results to that point would determine the winner.

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This article first appeared on ESPN.com

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