Americans add to lead at Presidents Cup as Canada’s Conners and Pendrith pair up

CHARLOTTE, NC — Taylor Pendrith centered on the ball, took a breath, and rolled his 13-foot, five-inch putt into the hole.

CHARLOTTE, NC — Taylor Pendrith centered on the ball, took a breath, and rolled his 13-foot, five-inch putt into the hole. He raised his fist and kissed partner Corey Conners on the 18th green as the international team celebrated on the fairway and the fans cheered.

Pendrith’s putt kept alive hopes of a draw against Americans Billy Horschel and Max Homa in the second round of the Presidents Cup, a potentially critical half point for the international team.

But Homa dashed those hopes a moment later when he gutted his 11-foot putt for a bigger fist pump, a louder cheer and a 1 win over the Canadians. The victory also gave the Americans an 8-2 lead over the internationals on Friday at Quail Hollow Golf Club.

“I still feel like there’s adrenaline flowing,” Conners said at the edge of the 18th green after the loss. “It’s difficult. We played against world-class players.

“The atmosphere is quite noisy, there’s a lot going on. You try to take advantage of it, but it’s really difficult.”

This year’s Presidents Cup is the first time that two Canadians have taken part in the event which sees 12 Americans compete against 12 players from around the world, excluding Europe. Conners and Pendrith had different partners in the first round, making Friday’s duo the first time two Canadians have teamed up at the event.

“To be paired up today is really special,” said Conners, who also went to Kent State University with Pendrith. “Hopefully we have a few more in us, and we’ll see if we can get points the rest of the way.”

Conners, of Listowel, Ont., will be paired with Sungjae Im of South Korea for a third-round foursome match on Saturday morning. Pairings for Saturday afternoon’s fourth round will be announced after the third round ends.

The first team to 15.5 points wins the PGA Tour-sponsored event, with the Americans’ considerable lead putting Sunday’s fifth round at risk of not being played at all.

Im and Colombian Sebastián Muñoz tied Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns in the second game of the day. Chile’s Mito Pereira and South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout also tied Kevin Kisner and Cameron Young in the third game to give the internationals their second point of the tournament.

“We have to keep fighting man,” said team captain Trevor Immelman of South Africa. “Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

“We feel like we’ve played some really good golf, solid golf tee-to-green, especially the last few days, but we’ve absolutely been out. No doubt about that.”

The eternal American duo Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas beat Australians Adam Scott and Cam Davis 2&1 in the first match of the day. Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele beat Japanese Hideki Matsuyama and South Korean Tom Kim 3&2.

Both Canadians showed their specialties throughout the game. Pendrith had the longest drive on eight of the foursome, consistently hitting the fairway. Conners, meanwhile, was unfailing in his approach shots, steadily falling close to the pin.

Their displays of power and precision wowed even the heavily pro-American crowd at Quail Hollow, earning thunderous applause, whistles as the long strokes flew through the air, and cries of “maple syrup!” and “Bacon Peameal!”

“We’re just trying to play our own games,” Conners said. “I try to do what I do well. I try to put it on the fairway, put it on the green, get some bird’s eye looks and free up Taylor to hit the balls and attack some of those skittles.”

The putt was the Canadiens’ Achilles’ heel early in the game, however, as Horschel and Homa took a 2-point lead over the front nine. Conners birdied the par-4 11th and par-4 13th holes to tie the game. Homa then birdied the par-4 No. 17 to set up his and Pendrith’s fateful putts.

“It stings a bit. Max had two really nice putts on the last two holes,” said Pendrith, a native of Richmond Hill, Ont. “We fought very hard but we didn’t have our best material at the start of the round. Good enough to stay.”

Officials said around 40,000 fans attended each of the first two days of the Presidents Cup, with an equally large crowd expected on Saturday and, if play continues, the same number on Sunday. The most notable people in Friday’s crowd were former US Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who arrived at Quail Hollow Club several hours before Scott, Davis, Spieth and Thomas left in the first group of the day .

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 23, 2022.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is an edited version of an earlier story. He mistakenly attributed the first quote in the story to Taylor Pendrith when it was Corey Conners talking about his adrenaline still rushing.

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