MELBOURNE, Australia — Adam Hadwin was under the weather on Saturday and didn’t play in either session on Day Three of the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.
The Canadian is battling a head cold and stayed back at the hotel Saturday morning as his teammates stretched their lead by one during the day’s opening four-ball session. The Internationals extended their lead to 9-5, winning two of four matches and tying another as the teams headed into Saturday afternoon alternate-shot foursomes, where another four points were up for grabs.
Hadwin arrived at the golf course late morning, but Els opted to give him the entire day off.
“Yes, I spoke to him,” Els said on Saturday. “He picked up a little bit of a bug last night. But you know, wasn’t in the lineup this afternoon, so he’s going to get ready for tomorrow.”
The 32-year-old has a 1-1 record this week and is set to play in Sunday singles.
Hadwin wasn’t feeling great on Thursday when he and partner Sungjae Im defeated Americans Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, and he felt worse on Friday when he and Joaquin Niemann lost to the same American pair on the last hole.
Hadwin was thrilled to pick up his first Presidents Cup win, especially after it came on the strength of a clutch par putt at the 16th hole that he said sent shivers down his spine. A day later, the putts weren’t dropping. He missed several putts on the back nine, including a lip-out at the 17th that would have given his team a 1-up lead with one hole to play. Instead, Cantlay rolled in a birdie at the 18th to win the match for the Americans.
Earning a captain’s pick was a huge goal for Hadwin, so travelling all this way and getting sick is obviously disappointing.
But it’s nothing that an International victory on Sunday won’t cure.
AMERICANS, WHERE ARE YOU?
The Internationals were looking for a home course advantage this week and they have found it both inside and outside the ropes at Royal Melbourne.
As play began on Thursday, it seemed as though there were fan groups from both teams singing songs to the players as they prepared to tee off at the first hole. It struck me as strange to hear the American fans singing since they are better known for chanting U-S-A than any clever soccer-inspired fan songs.
Turns out, these supposed American fans were actually a division of the Australian Fanatics, a travelling fan group.
The fans serenading Patrick Cantlay by converting Backstreet Boys “I want it that way” to “I want Pat Cantlay” weren’t American at all.
In fact, it’s hard to find Americans here at Royal Melbourne. I spoke to some fans from Hawaii who made the trip and I have seen some NFL apparel here and there, but for the most part, everyone is rooting for the Internationals. On Saturday morning there was a Presidents Cup employee giving away free American flags inside the fan zone. He might have had the toughest job at the course.
OOST, IM AND ANCER
The most impressive players for the Internationals this week have been Louis Oosthuizen, Abraham Ancer, and Sungjae Im.
Oosthuizen was always expected to anchor Els team. Besides having one of the most beautiful and repeatable golf swings on the planet, he is the class clown inside the International team room who keeps the mood light. On the first hole on Friday, the South African Oosthuizen was paired with Adam Scott when fans started serenaded their favourite Australian player with the tune, “We’ve got the best-looking golfer on our team.”
To which Oosthuizen would say later, “They were talking about me.”
It’s the play of Ancer and Im that likely has turned some heads. Ancer, who was born in Texas but plays for Mexico, might have the Americans wishing he was on their side. He’s proven to be a fiery competitor and actually did most of the work on Thursday when paired with Oosthuizen.
Im looks like a golfing machine on the course. His tee-to-green game is exquisite and the sky’s the limit for the 21-year-old reigning PGA Tour rookie of the year. Very few players at this level make a distinctly different sound at impact, but Im is one of them.
“He’s never going to be out of position, so it makes you feel comfortable as a player,” Hadwin said of Im.
“You know that you’re going to be able to get away with a mistake or two here and there because of playing with him, and I enjoy it.”
BUH-BYE CAPTAIN AMERICA
Are we witnessing the death of Captain America? Patrick Reed is 0-3 here in Melbourne and his schtick has worn thin. On Saturday, Reed’s caddie Kessler Karain — who is also his brother-in-law — was involved in an altercation after Reed’s morning four-ball match. Golf Channel’s Steve Sands said that Karain was set to meet with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan Saturday afternoon. For now, it certainly looks like the Captain America shield looks better on Justin Thomas.
NO SLACKING OFF
Someone told me Australian summer are hot. My two pairs of pants are getting quite a workout. The temperature hasn’t gone above 20 degrees and has been in the low teens for most of the mornings. Next week? It’s going to be 40. If you’re heading here for vacation, pro tip: bring more than a carry-on.