Presidents Cup: Day 1 match capsules
Thursday, November 17, 2011
We had four reporters on the ground on Thursday in Melbourne, Australia, and each was able to catch up with each of the day's matches. Many of them started one way and finished another (just ask Jason Day and Aaron Baddeley).
As the U.S. celebrates being ahead 4-2 after Day One foursomes, we thought we'd take you back through each match and break down the key moments and where each match turned.
Interested in how our predictions matched up to the real outcome? Check out Alex Miceli's pre-round match-by-match analysis, complete with picks in each one.
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Match 1: Bubba Watson-Webb Simpson (U.S.) d. Ernie Els-Ryo Ishikawa, 4 and 2
The International side got out early and played solidly enough to win on most days, shooting 3 under. But Watson and Simpson, once they got going, simply were too strong. Rookie Simpson was shaky at the start, but knocked down birdie putts at 5 and 6 and the U.S. was off and running.
Ishikawa, who arrived late and got in only one practice round at Royal Melbourne, struggled at times with his iron play, but he made two big putts for halves at Nos. 8 and 9. His putt at the ninth answered the best shot of the day, a 6-iron from a fairway bunker from 201 yards that settled within 2 feet of the flagstick for a conceded birdie.
The U.S. stretched its lead to 3 up when Simpson set up Watson for a short birdie at 13, and then sealed the match at the par-4 16th when Watson drew an approach from 161 yards that settled 5 feet beyond the hole.
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Match 2: Haas-Watney (U.S.) halved Ogilvy-Schwartzel
They never led and it took them eight holes to make a birdie, yet the Americans were the ones smiling at the end. Two down through six, 2 down through 14, and seemingly on the ropes all day, Haas and Watney won the par-5 15th with a birdie (Haas’ brilliant bunker shot setting Watney up for a conceded 2-footer) and the 17th with a par to escape with a half point.
“We played well at the beginning,” Ogilvy said of a match in which the Internationals played the first 11 holes in 3 under, “but they played really well at the end when they had to.”
Schwartzel missed an uphill 15-footer for par at 18 after his approach from the right rough came up well short and Ogilvy wedged on. Haas had a sliding 10-footer for par that would have won the match, but his putt stayed on the high side.
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Match 3: Dustin Johnson-Matt Kuchar (U.S.) halved Jason Day-Aaron Baddeley
The U.S. team never had a lead in this match, trailing from the third tee on. It was ugly at times – the Americans making four bogeys in the first eight holes, the Internationals playing their last seven holes in 3 over. But in the end it proved to be a match that had everyone watching.
That’s because it was the last match on the course and it offered a perfect snapshot of the day: The Americans rallying, the Internationals fading.
Three down through 11 holes, Johnson and Kuchar won the 12th with a par and that recipe would repeat itself at the 17th (Baddeley missed a 10-footer for par) and the 18th (Baddeley driving short and wild right to set in motion another bogey).
Instead of a victory, the Internationals got just a half point. Captain Greg Norman, who has been a mentor to the young Aussie, was asked what he’d said to Baddeley.
“Just keep your head high. I know he feels bad. We are behind. But they have to carry their heads high and wake up tomorrow morning and start the whole day fresh.”
“It's water over the dam and just accept it and it's done. You could have shot 62 and lost a point, but it didn't work out that way."
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Match 4: Phil Mickelson-Jim Furyk (U.S.) d. Retief Goosen-Robert Allenby, 4 and 3
Phil Mickelson made a rare request to U.S. Captain Fred Couples: “Pair me with Jim Furyk.” The two U.S. veterans spend much of their time at Ryder and Presidents cups taking younger players under their wings. But Couples complied to Mickelson’s request, and the 40somethings responded with a lopsided triumph. They had not played alongside one another in team play since the 1999 Ryder Cup.
The Internationals took a 1-up lead into No. 7, where Mickelson drained a 16-foot birdie putt to square the match. The U.S. then won four of the next five holes, either with birdie conversions or poor play by the Internationals (Goosen/Allenby doubled the eighth and bogeyed 9) to take a commanding 4-up cushion.
The U.S. pair made seven birdies (to four) and hit 13 of 15 fairways, and never had a three-putt on the slippery Royal Melbourne greens.
“We got shortchanged,” joked Mickelson after the match. "If we had three more holes we would have made a couple more birdies."
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Match 5: David Toms-Hunter Mahan (U.S.) d. K.T. Kim-Y.E. Yang, 6 and 5
K.T. Kim and Y.E. Yang were befuddled not only by the play of their American foes, but by Royal Melbourne, a course neither player knows very well. Each of the other five pairings put out by International captain Greg Norman either had an Australian in the group or a player familiar with Royal Melbourne. (South African Ernie Els, for instance, has won three Heineken Classics and once shot 60 on the Alister MacKenzie layout. But on Day 1, the Korean duo was on its own.
Early on both teams played well. The U.S. team birdied its first three holes, but only had a 1-up lead to show for it.
The lead would seesaw between 1- and 2-up over the next three holes as the U.S. would make a bogey at the par-3 fifth hole, but the Internationals would make bogeys at Nos. 4 and 6. The U.S. would play almost error-free over the remaining seven holes, with two birdies and a lone bogey on the par-4 12th, which still was good enough to win the hole.
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Match 6: Adam Scott-K.J. Choi (Internationals) d. Tiger Woods-Steve Stricker, 7 and 6
Scott and Choi went 4 under for the 12 holes, while Woods and Stricker struggled at 3 over. In other words, the International duo won three holes with pars. The loss was thought to be the most lopsided match-play defeat of Woods' career, at any level.
Woods-Stricker didn't make a birdie and were the only two-man team not to win a hole in the opening foursomes session. Three of the lost holes could be blamed on Stricker, two on Woods. The Internationals won the par-5 second with birdie after Stricker hooked a drive left in high rough; the par-3 fifth after Woods tugged an iron into a bunker; the sixth on a 9-foot Choi birdie putt; the seventh after Woods drove wild right into weeds; the ninth after Stricker found a right greenside bunker; the 11th after Stricker hit a weak chip; and the 12th on another 9-foot Choi birdie putt.
"We just never got into really any flow, any momentum, anything," Stricker said, echoing Woods. "We were a little off and they played great and that combination led to a lopsided defeat."
Woods, who shook hands with former caddie Steve Williams on the first tee, added: "We just couldn't put any pressure on them."
Woods and Stricker are 6-2 in Ryder-Presidents Cup matches but have lost their last two matches, both foursomes, by rout.
– Jeff Babineau, Jeff Rude, Jim McCabe, Alex Miceli
Also, check out these other Day One headlines:
• Time for bed? We offer some thoughts on Golf Channel's extensive coverage of the Presidents Cup. Story.
• Weathering the storm: Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson battled back from an early deficit to pick up the Americans' first point on Thursday. Story.
• Wacky weather? Officials have moved up Friday's tee times because of a threat of storms on Friday afternoon. Golf Channel has also adjusted its TV schedule to accommodate the changes. Story.