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Golf Internationals claw early point back at Presidents Cup

South Africans Louis Oosthuizen & Branden Grace beat world number one Jordan Spieth & partner Dustin Johnson.

FILE. US golfer Jordan Spieth on the putting green. Picture: Jordan Spieth/Facebook

SOUTH KOREA - The Internationals claimed a vital early point on the second day of the Presidents Cup with South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace beating world number one Jordan Spieth and US partner Dustin Johnson 4&3.

Friday's four-balls also saw the first moment of controversy at the biennial event, being played in Asia for the first time, when American Phil Mickelson was penalised for changing the type of ball he was playing on the seventh hole.

He and playing partner Zach Johnson lost the hole to Australians Jason Day and Adam Scott anyway, but were then given another one-hole penalty for Mickelson's infraction.

The incident seemed to fire up the 45-year-old, who needed a captain's pick this year for the first time since 1994, and he delivered a shot-of-the-day contender at the 12th when his fairway bunker shot from 136 yards dropped near the pin and span sideways into the hole.

Trailing 4-1 from the opening day's foursomes, International skipper Nick Price needed a strong start on Friday and got just that from Grace and Oosthuizen, who had put the only blue on the board the previous day.

"Pricey had the idea to get us up in there because we had a good one yesterday and try to lead the whole team from the front," said Grace. "And you know, that was a big thing for us to put the blue number in there early on, and we managed to do that."

"Hopefully gives the guys a little motivation behind us and hopefully press on for the last couple holes."

Spieth, who won two majors this year among his five Tour wins, said he and Johnson had gift-wrapped the point to the opposition.

"We both played very poor rounds of golf and we didn't have many chances, so it was Merry Christmas to the other guys," he said.

The Internationals were also in a strong position in the day's final match with Charl Schwartzel, who sat out the opening day due to illness, and Thongchai Jaidee leading Bill Haas and Chris Kirk by two holes with four to play.

In the other ties, Mickelson and Johnson were all square with the Australians with two to play, while Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker were also level with Bae Sang-moon and Danny Lee after 16.

American pair J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson were one up on Marc Leishman and Steven Bowditch with three to play.

The Internationals are trying to win the Cup for just the second time, while the United States are going for their ninth in 11 editions of the event.