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Rally sparks International squad

DUBLIN, OH. -- On Thursday when a weather delay at the Presidents Cup halted play at 2:38 p.m. ET, the U.S. was leading in five of the six matches.

It looked like another rout in a series dominated by an American side that has compiled a 7-1-1 record since the biennial matches began in 1994. If the score held to form, it wouldn't be the best possible outcome in an event that was already struggling to find some relevance in a format dominated by the Ryder Cup.

Then something happened in the late afternoon when play resumed. The Internationals rallied to put on hold lingering concerns about the future of the Presidents Cup.

Facing a possible shut out heading into Friday's alternate shot format, where the Americans have dominated, the Internationals fought back to finish the day down just 3½ to 2½.

"I think what we showed today is that there's plenty of heart on this team," said Adam Scott, who got a halve with Hideki Matsuyama against Americans Bill Haas and Webb Simpson. "I don't think spirits were low when we sat in the team room in the break, but for everyone to go out and rally, some guys to pull out wins, other guys halves, and even the matches we lost came closer all of a sudden."

The International squad was grateful for the nearly hour and a half break.

"We weren't going to gain momentum, but we might have stopped theirs a little bit at that point," Scott said. "They were rolling pretty good, and more of a case they were making the putts and getting it to happen, and we had not started yet.

"So [it was a] timely break, which might have just slowed their momentum a little bit and let us creep back in at the end of the day."

Nick Price, the International captain, didn't need to give a big foot-stomping speech.

"The front nine was kind of like an exhibition from the U.S. team," said Price, who was in five Presidents Cups as a player. "At the break, I just spoke to each one of them and said the U.S. has had everything go their way the front nine, and just be patient, persevere.

"There's plenty of holes to go, and what a great comeback they made."

The players knew what was at stake if they didn't come out after the break with better play. The sell-out crowd had come to see a fight.

"[The break] was a good time to just really get a little bit of a break to just realize that we have to go out there and take it from them. We are not going to just get it," International team member Louis Oosthuizen said.

Oosthuizen and his fellow South African, Charl Schwartzel, got the first crucial point of the day for the Internationals in a 2-and-1 victory over Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, who had gone 3-0 as a team in the Ryder Cup last year at Medinah. But after the resumption of play, the American duo didn't win another hole.

You could feel the tide shifting toward the Internationals in central Ohio.

Jason Day and Graham DeLaet were 3 down after six holes in their match against Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker, but fought back after the storm to win 1-up when Day birdied the 18th hole.

"After the rain delay, we came out and played great golf on the back nine, and I just knew that if I could give myself a putt on the 18th green, that I have played here enough to know where the breaks are," said Day, an Australian who is a member at Muirfield Village.

On Wednesday, Scott talked about the determination of the International team and the need to get off to a good start in the matches. In the four-ball session on Thursday, none of their pairings could match the onslaught of American birdies, but they persevered literally through a storm.

On Friday, the Internationals will have a very difficult task against the Americans. In the 2011 matches in Australia, the U.S. won eight of 11 points in foursomes.

"[Foursomes] is the hardest format of the lot, without a doubt," Price said. "Alternate shot, you're playing basically half a round. But I think the individuals have got to get together; the two guys, the teams and get with each other and spur each other on.

"We've got 12 wonderful ball-strikers here. I'm not going to lose faith in those teams to be honest. I really think that they are all ready to take their games to the next level so to speak team-wise."

On Thursday, Price's 12 men showed the heart of champions. They need three more days of that caliber to set the future of the Presidents Cup on a different path.