That is, if numb counts as a feeling.
It was wet, the fans were getting all wound up and the U.S. fortunes were heading in the wrong direction again, just like last year at the Ryder Cup in Wales.
But this time, they weathered the cool weather, quieted the home-field crowd and got one hand clasped firmly on the trophy heading into the final day of the Presidents Cup at treacherous Royal Melbourne.
“It definitely had a Ryder Cup atmosphere and today we had Ryder Cup weather,” said Mahan, whose birdie on the 17th hole helped win a crucial point in the afternoon best-ball session. “Boy, there was a lot going on here today – this was the Australian team we were playing here and you heard it all day.”
Just not so much at the end.
Just as the International team mounted a brief and frantic rally at the end, the Americans scored key best-ball wins behind Mahan and veteran Jim Furyk to take a commanding 13-9 lead into Sunday singles.
It ain’t exactly over, but fat women are warming up their chords at the Sydney Opera House. In the eight previous eight President Cup matches, no team that has trailed entering the 12 Sunday singles matches has managed to win to cup.
After demonstrably winning Saturday’s morning alternate-shot session 4-1 to take an 11-6 lead into the afternoon best-ball format, the International team finally made some noise as the situation got close to desperate. All five best-ball matches went to the 17th or 18th holes, in fact, but the Yanks mostly dodged the heavy mortal fire.
Furyk won his match with Nick Watney, 1 up, when opponent Adam Scott missed birdie putts from seven and 25 feet on the last two holes that could have resulted in the Americans losing a full point.
Furyk, one of four players on the U.S. team in his 40s, was the only one of the foursome who hasn’t sat out a match and improved to 4-0 for the week after one of his most disappointing seasons. He and Phil Mickelson teamed for wins in their first three matches before Lefty took the afternoon session Saturday off to rest.
After this week’s utterly unforeseen spurt, Furyk now has a PrezCup record of 19-10-3, matching Tiger Woods for most full points in event history. He’s 4-2 in career singles in the event, too.
Last year, Furyk was the PGA Tour Player of the Year, but he was winless in 2011 and rarely was in the Sunday mix. This week marked the first time in 14 combined Ryder or Presidents Cups that Furyk, 41, amassed a 4-0 mark.
Mahan redeemed himself some, too. He lost the deciding point at the Ryder last year when he flubbed a chip shot in the final match against Europe’s Graeme McDowell. Saturday, after animated Aussie Jason Day drained a 35-footer for birdie on the 17th hole to seemingly extend the match, Mahan dropped a 20-footer of his own to secure a 2-and-1 victory. In other words, the Internationals won the afternoon best-ball session, 3-2, but it could have been far worse for the Yanks.
"The putt Hunter Mahan made on the 17th hole was clutch," International captain Greg Norman said. "That is what makes you the professional golfer, what you are. That's why these guys win golf tournament, because they love that moment."
The wins by the Mahan and Furyk pairings certainly let some air out of the Aussie arena, so to speak. In the five times that the Yanks have led by four or fewer points heading into Sunday play, the team has never lost the singles session.
In broad terms, the Internationals must muster 8 of the 12 points to have a chance to secure a tie in the matches, in which case the U.S. would still retain the cup. Only once in eight previous Presidents Cups has either team managed eight points in singles, when the U.S. won the 1994 Sunday session, 8-4, to win the cup in an overall 20-12 rout.
Barring a complete crash and burn, the Americans will be 7-1-1 in the event on Sunday night.