Ernie Els and Brendon de Jonge ate their way through the rain break on Friday during the foursomes in the Presidents Cup, but they converted all that fuel into birdies and downed Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan 4&3 when play resumed.
“Some of us play PlayStation and go nuts, and some of us sit on the couch and eat; so we did the latter,” said Els of the delay as the International team picked up one more point go stay in touch with the United States, who also picked up a 4&3 win as Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley beat Graham DeLaet and Jason Day.
The pairing of the veteran and the rookie which was carried by the Zimbabwean captain’s pick during their opening one-down defeat on the first day was more of a team this time as Els contributed to the haul of six birdies and an eagle, but it was still De Jonge who raised eyebrows with his play and the way he has slotted into a team many thought might be beyond him.
“Brendon played awesome,” said Els. “He played great yesterday. Actually he even played better today, so it was a really nice day. He’s had a great year and he’s played himself into this team, and I said so to Pricey [International captain Nick Price]after playing with Brendon in Boston in the final round and saw the talent in the man.
“He played unbelievably yesterday. He almost took them on by himself. Today we both played quite nicely,” he added.
De Jonge was characteristically modest: “Ernie is giving me way too much credit,” he said. “My point counts the same as everyone else’s. So I don’t feel any added pressure.”
The duo won the second hole on De Jonge’s birdie putt, and the third when Els finished off the birdie. The International team then eagled the par-five fifth when De Jonge found the green with his second shot. The Americans, meanwhile, didn’t produce their first birdie until the ninth hole and never won a hole. The International pair was a collective eight-under through the 15 holes.
So De Jonge’s selection is becoming completely vindicated in a Presidents Cup that is closer than many – especially American fans and commentators – expected.
“Nick was in a very difficult situation,” Els said of the decision to leave fellow South African and close friend Tim Clark off the team, instead opting for De Jonge and Marc Leishman. “When you have captain’s picks, always somebody is going to be disappointed. I obviously supported Brendon because of his play, the way he hits the golf ball and the way it suits this golf course.
“He hits a power cut and Jack Nicklaus was quite renowned for this, so he’s got a perfect game for this golf course, so that’s where I was going.”
Play in the foursomes was set to be completed on Saturday morning.