The idea was for two of the most reliable American teams to set the tone Thursday in the Presidents Cup, and the result was predictable.
Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay made short work of Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama in the opening match. They didn’t make a bogey in a 6-and-5 victory, improving their record to 5-0 in foursomes at the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup.
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, best friends since they were 14, had clutch shots to atone for their mistakes and held off Sungjae Im and Corey Conners, 2 and 1.
Another strong American team from top to bottom played at a high level on a hot day at Quail Hollow and walked off with a 4-1 lead after the first session.
“I told the guys last night we need to set the tone — us and J.T. and Jordan’s match — and we did,” Schauffele said. “Playing this format on a day like today and not making any bogeys, it’s exactly what we need.”
The International team, already an underdog in these matches, was hurt more than the Americans by players leaving the PGA Tour for Saudi-funded LIV Golf, including Cameron Smith and Joaquin Niemann.
All that kept the International side from being shut out were Si Woo Kim and Cameron Davis. They were 2 down with four holes to play against Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns when they seized on American mistakes and scratched out a 2-up victory.
Two of the eight rookies for the International team, Taylor Pendrith and Mito Pereira, nearly picked up another point. They were all square going to the tough par-4 closing hole when Pereira hit a wild tee shot, Pendrith could only manage the right bunker and they made bogey. Tony Finau and Max Homa walked away with a 1-up win and a point.
“We did what we were supposed to do,” Finau said.
The other U.S. point came from Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young, the PGA Tour rookie of the year, who soaked up the environment before a full house at Quail Hollow and produced a winning moment of his own.
They were in a tight match with against 20-year-old Tom Kim and K.H. Lee, all square with six holes to play. At the time, the last three matches could have gone either way. As easy as Cantlay and Schauffele made it look in the opening match, it was only one point.
The Americans regained the lead when Morikawa stuffed a wedge into 2 feet for birdie on the downwind 14th hole. The lead remained 1 up and appeared to be headed toward the 18th when Young slammed in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th to end the match.
“That moment there is about all I can ask for,” Young said. “Obviously, it’s the first day, but every point we get is important. And …read more