By Peter Rutherford
INCHEON, South Korea (Reuters) - It has been a day of great escapes and blown opportunities for the Internationals so far at the Presidents Cup on Saturday as they split the morning foursomes to remain a point behind the United States going into the afternoon four-balls.
Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace earned their third straight win by beating Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler 3&2, as International blue dominated the early scoreboard at the Jack Nicklaus Gold Club Korea.
Jason Day and Charl Schwartzel led Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson by three holes at one point but fell apart over the closing stages, with world number one Spieth draining a seven footer on 18 to win the match.
"Your blood is running, it's running through your hands. You know it's there," said Spieth. "But man, what a comeback we had there. That was a great fight. And it was a huge point in the Presidents Cup."
The Americans' task was made that much easier on 18 after Schwartzel tried to bite off too much in a fairway bunker, smacked the lip and saw his ball roll back into the sand trap.
"I had a poor shot, I had 5-iron on 18 and I just hit it square in the teeth," said the South African.
"That ball has got no more teeth left."
The U.S. players were rubbing Phil Mickelson's belly for luck on Saturday but Bubba Watson should perhaps have rubbed a bit harder.
After snapping his driver on the practice range and needing a replacement club rushed to him out on the course, the left-hander then muffed a five-foot putt on 18 that would have sealed the win over Adam Scott and Marc Leishman.
That match ended halved, as did the next fixture, which saw Bae Sang-moon and Hideki Matsuyama fight back on the last to earn a half-point against Bill Haas and Matt Kuchar.
The International team are chasing just their second win at the biennial event while the United States are going for their ninth victory in 11 editions of the Cup, which is being played in Asia for the first time this year.
The Americans, who led 4-1 after the first day, now lead 7 1/2 to 6 1/2 going into the afternoon four-balls. The event concludes on Sunday with 12 singles matches.
Grace and Oosthuizen have played solid golf in South Korea and the South Africans agreed confidence was sky high.
"I think it grows every day the better we play," said Grace. "There was a couple of slips towards the middle there but we got it going."
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)