Zach and Duf take a break, then pick up big point

DUBLIN, OHIO (AP) - They split two matches, then reluctantly took a break.

Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner came back with a vengeance in a 4-and-3 foursomes victory over the International side’s Richard Sterne and Marc Leishman on Saturday night at the Presidents Cup.

It was a win that might have meant a lot more than just a point to the Americans.

Zach and Duf, to flip that match around, it seems like it flipped a couple other matches our way,” United States captain Fred Couples said.

The win _ capped by the most memorable shot of the day _ gave the United States an 11 1/2-6 1/2 lead in the rain-plagued competition with four other foursomes matches left to be decided early Sunday morning. Then the 12 singles matches will get under way, weather permitting _ it’s always “weather permitting” at Muirfield Village.

Dufner, the laconic winner of the PGA Championship, and Johnson, a former Masters champion, rolled to a lopsided 5-and-3 win over Sterne and Branden Grace in their opening fourballs match Thursday. But they lost 2 and 1 in Friday’s foursomes to Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott.

Couples and his assistants made the decision to give them both a rest in the next round.

“We saved them for the alternate shot,” Couples said. “Obviously, the hardest thing is to sit someone and that’s just the choice we made.”

It proved to be a good one based on how they played on Saturday afternoon.

They were 2-down through seven holes but then won at the ninth, 11th, 13th, 14th and 15th holes to close out the victory.

Dufner kept sticking iron shots close on the greens, sodden by 1.5 inches of rain since Thursday.

“It seemed like Duf was going to hole out three times,” Johnson said. “He had, in about a three- or four-hole stretch, his ball marks were in a 3-foot circle next to the hole. I guess if you just keep knocking on that door, maybe one is going to fall.

Couples said he’d never seen anything like it.

“From the eighth hole onto the 15th, I watched every step with Zach and Duf,” he said. “Honestly, I’ve not seen golf like that _ ever. They hit every shot at the flag. Duf hit it over the top of the flag on 12. On 13 he played a beautiful shot. On 14, he made a 6-footer.”

The topper was what happened at the 15th. After Johnson drove into the rough on the uphill but reachable par-5, Dufner hit to 117 yards short of the green.

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