Spieth, Thomas combo unbeatable in Presidents Cup team play
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Justin Thomas could only shake his head in disbelief and chuckle as Jordan Spieth’s chip from the short side of the green Saturday rolled into the cup on No. 15, helping the duo to a record-tying fourth straight team win this week at the Presidents Cup.
As the crowd at Quail Hollow erupted into raucous chants of “USA! USA! USA!,” Thomas pointed both hands in Spieth’s direction as if prompting his good buddy to take a nice, long bow.
Frankly, both deserved it.
The 4-and-3 victory over the International team of Hideki Matsuyama and Taylor Pendrith left them 4-0 this week as playing partners, marking the first American tandem to accomplish that feat in this event since Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in 2009. Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace did it for the International team in 2015.
Along the way, Spieth and Thomas beat four different teams in foursome and fourball matches over the past three days.
“We have full trust and belief that we can beat whoever we play,” Thomas said. “You know, whether it’s a Presidents Cup or a Ryder Cup or a money game, we enjoy the challenge and try to embrace it.”
The duo has been dominant, not needing to go a full 18 holes to win a match this week.
“They just kept making birdies,” Pendrith said, shrugging his shoulders with a feeling of helplessness. “I don’t know how many birdies exactly they had, but it seemed like a lot.”
It was eight.
Eight of them in 14 holes, in fact, after going 1 down after No. 1.
They’re now 8-2 playing as a team, with a 4-2 mark in Ryder Cup play. This week was the first time they’ve been paired together in the Presidents Cup — but almost certainly won’t be the last.
Thomas attributes their success to the “trust” they have in each other.
“I think that’s something that’s so important in this format and in this tournament — whether it’s alternate shot or best ball, you’ve got to have trust in your partner,” Thomas said. “And you know there’s no apologies. ... We just know that we’re both two very good players, and the odds of both of us being out of a hole are not likely.”
The duo has been friends since they were 13 and played together in the final round of the Junior All-Star at Walnut Creek southwest of Dallas in the spring of 2007.
They played against each other throughout that summer and both were selected to represent the United States in the Evian Masters Junior Cup in France. Their friendship flourished when they roomed together.
They’ve grown closer as friends as both experienced success as amateurs and on the PGA Tour.
As a team, they’re something special.
They didn’t make bogey in their two best ball matches and only had two in alternate shot. Thomas said he attempted 10 putts on Saturday, joking that “I picked up my coin more than I putt.”
“I have so much confidence watching him stand over shots and putts,” Spieth said. “And it’s so fun when the feeling I have is that it’s going to go in every time when he’s over it, and I’m just waiting to see how he’s going to react. That happened a lot this week.”
The duo will have to split up for singles play on Sunday, with the U.S. holding an 11-7 lead entering the 12 singles matches. The first team to 15 1/2 points wins the cup.
But the memories they’ve made this week have been special.
Thomas said he and Spieth talked about playing together in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup ever since those days of playing in junior golf and having success on the big international stage.
That dream has come to fruition — and they’re enjoying every minute of it.
“It’s just bizarre,” Thomas said. “I feel like it’s just one of those things where if one’s off, the other one’s on and vice versa. Man, it’s a great quality, and I really hope we keep it up because it doesn’t get any more fun than this out here.”
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