Presidents Cup: U.S. leads 3.5-1.5 after Thursday foursomes

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Presidents Cup: U.S. leads 3.5-1.5 after Thursday foursomes

PGA Tour

Presidents Cup: U.S. leads 3.5-1.5 after Thursday foursomes

The U.S. has opened up a lead on home soil, but it’s clear early that the Internationals will put up a spirited fight.

The Americans ended Day 1 of the Presidents Cup leading 3.5-1.5, marking 27 straight sessions the U.S. has led after in this competition. Yet, it could’ve been worse for the road squad.

Foursomes play brought the Americans wins in Thursday’s first three matches, earning them a 3-0 lead at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J.

But even as that was happening, it seemed the Internationals were in good position in the remaining matches to possibly earn at least 1.5 of the 2 closing points.

They did just that to stave off a massive first-day deficit.

Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler put the first point on the board for the U.S. with a 6-and-4 romp in the opening match against Charl Schwartzel and Hideki Matsuyama. Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed followed in Match No. 3 with a 5-and-4 triumph over Emiliano Grillo and Si Woo Kim. Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson outlasting Jhonattan Vegas and Adam Scott, 1 up, made it 3-0.

But Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen then took down Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka, 3 and 1, to put the Internationals on the board.

In the final match of the day, Jason Day and Marc Leishman held on to a halve against Phil Mickelson and Kevin Kisner, a half point that kept the deficit at 2 points.

Not the greatest start for the Internationals, which are looking to win this event for the first time since 1998. The Presidents Cup series stands at 9-1-1, U.S. But a 4-1 deficit or worse would’ve been pretty devastating already.

Whatever the case, it was an exciting day.

Thomas and Fowler got the energy pumping early Thursday. The pair actually fell 1 down after losing the second but then won Nos. 3-5, 7 and 9 to push to a 4-up lead. Schwartzel and Matsuyama won No. 10, but the Americans quickly won Nos. 11 and 12 to move 5 up. They would close it out with a par at 14.

Spieth and Reed never trailed in their match, taking the lead with a vengeance in winning Nos. 4-7 to move 4 up. Kim and Grillo won the eighth to move back 3 down and captured the 10th to get within two. And Spieth faced a 33-footer for par at the 11th.

That’s when Spieth shut the door. He buried the downhill snake and Grillo couldn’t match from 15 feet, and the U.S. had won the hole to move back 3 up. Spieth and Reed then won No. 12 with a birdie to move 4 up and Spieth made a 5-footer for par at 13 to remain 4 up.

The pair won the 14th to close out the match, 5 and 4. This win meant the U.S. duo is now 6-1-2 as a pair in the Ryder and Presidents cups.

Johnson and Kuchar held on for a 1-up victory despite Scott and Vegas beginning the match birdie-birdie to quickly go 2 up. The American pair immediately fought back, winning Nos. 3 and 4 to square the match. The Internationals won the fifth, the Americans captured the seventh (with Johnson holing a bunker shot for birdie) and the Internationals took back a 1-up lead by winning the ninth. Oh, and the Americans captured the 10th to square it back up.

That’s just two halved holes in the first 10.

The match stabilized thereafter, the difference proving to be the Americans winning the 16th with a birdie to move 1 up. Scott holed a 6-footer at the 17th for par to essentially extend the match.

But the Internationals hit a poor tee shot at the par-3 18th, and Johnson had two putts from 18 feet to win. He lagged perfectly for par and the match to be conceded.

The first losing U.S. pair was Berger and Koepka. That’s despite winning the first hole with a birdie.

By the fifth, Grace and Oosthuizen had taken the lead with wins at Nos. 3 and 5. The match was squared at No. 6, but Koepka hit his tee shot in the water at No. 9 and Berger hit the approach in the water, too, after dropping. That meant a concession and a 1-up lead for Grace/Oosthuizen.

A concession at the 10th the other way squared the match up. But the Internationals won 13 and 15 to move 2 up and then got the ending concession at 17.

Mickelson and Kisner won the first hole with birdie from 34 feet and were 3 up through six. In cruise control, the American duo suddenly floundered, losing Nos. 8-11 to fall 1 down.

The match was squared at 12 but Day and Leishman won 14 to move 1 up. It appeared the Aussies would at least earn a half-point. But Day missed a 9-footer for par at 17 and they lost that hole to square the match.

They then bogeyed 18 and could only watch as Mickelson had an 8-footer for par to win the match. Luckily for the Aussies, Lefty couldn’t convert. The match was halved.

There are still three days to go, and two points is an easy deficit to make up. The Internationals are showing heart, but the Americans once again have the early advantage.

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