Golf: US team take 4-1 lead over Internationals at Presidents Cup

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – The United States jumped to a 4-1 lead over the International team on the first day of the Presidents Cup on Thursday at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte.

The first day of the competition featured five alternate-shot (foursomes) matches, with the Americans winning the first three of the day thanks to some familiar pairings.

The Internationals made a late charge in the fourth match to stun world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns, but Americans Tony Finau and Max Homa hung in to collect the final point of the day.

“We had some matches where we were rolling and the guys played great, and then some matches like this one with Tony and Max that they ground it out,” US captain Davis Love III said on the Golf Channel broadcast.

Good friends Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele roundly defeated Australia’s Adam Scott and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama 6 & 5 in the opening match. Cantlay and Schauffele improved to 5-0-0 as a foursomes team in the Ryder and Presidents Cups.

“We’ve played a lot of alternate shot with each other, and I think we just feel really comfortable and confident,” Cantlay said. “On a day like (today) to make no bogeys, it was really good golf.”

Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas teamed up to beat South Korea’s Im Sung-jae and Canada’s Corey Conners 2 & 1. With a 1-up lead through 14 holes, Thomas rolled in a long birdie putt from just off the 15th green to give the US a cushion.

Cameron Young and Collin Morikawa beat Tom Kim and K.H. Lee of South Korea 2 & 1 in a tighter affair. Kim and Lee briefly led when the Americans bogeyed the par-four second, and they won consecutive holes at Nos. 11 and 12 to tie the match.

The Americans responded with a birdie to win No. 13 and held on until Young made a 26-foot birdie putt at No. 17 to secure the point. Each player in the third match was making his Presidents Cup debut.

The Internationals prevented a shutout with a late surge in the fourth match. Kim Si-woo of South Korea and Cam Davis of Australia rallied to beat Scheffler and Burns 2-up. Scheffler and Burns led the match 3-up through the seventh and 2-up through the 14th, but Kim and Davis won the final four holes to turn the tide.

Kim’s 10-foot birdie on the par-five 16th tied the match and a short birdie at No. 17 gave the international duo the lead. Burns’ wayward drive at No. 18 all but assured the Americans would not be able to tie.

“Obviously, these guys are some of the best players in the world and the best player in the world,” Davis said of his opponents. “Yeah, they’ve been the ones in form all year. We’ve been kind of creeping around in the background a little bit. Yeah, very satisfying, head to head, to have the game that takes that on and gets on top.”

Finau and Homa led 2-up through the sixth but did not win another hole until the 18th. Their opponents, Taylor Pendrith of Canada and Mito Pereira of Chile, tied the match with a birdie at No. 13. At the 18th, a par-four, Homa’s third shot landed inside two feet to set up a par and Pendrith blew his 10-foot par putt past the cup.

The US entered the week 11-1-1 in Presidents Cup history. International captain Trevor Immelman was grateful to get on the board on Day 1.

“Really proud of that second-to-last match for hanging in and finishing so strong to eke out a point there for us,” the South African said. “Americans played some brilliant golf today. I think we’re gonna have to find a way to make a few putts in the next few days. But we’ll hang in there and keep fighting, that’s what we do.”

Friday’s format will switch to five best-ball (fourballs) matches. REUTERS

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