By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- What appeared headed for a U.S. rout early during Thursday's opening Four-ball session of the Presidents Cup changed dramatically on the back nine and ended with the Americans owning a 3.5-2.5 advantage.
The Americans had led in five matches and the sixth was all square when play was suspended at 2:38 p.m. ET due to a dangerous weather situation. But the 90-minute delay worked in favor of the International Team, which hadn't lost a Four-Ball session since 2003.
The final outcome of the opening session came down to the match between Americans Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth with Brendon de Jonge and Ernie Els. The International Team had birdie putts to win the final two holes but Stricker came up with a clutch par at No. 18 to preserve the 1-up win.
"We rocked and rolled early," U.S. Captain Fred Couples said. "Our guys came out firing. The rain delay obviously helped the International Team, which is fine. I couldn't be happier for Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth getting that last point."
Conversely, International Team Captain Nick Price couldn't be too disappointed.
"I think my team made a great effort there coming back," he said.
Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar drew first blood for the U.S. as they beat Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman by a decisive 5-and-4 margin. But Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen pulled off the big upset for the International Team as they took down Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, who went undefeated at last year's Ryder Cup, 2 and 1.
Muirfield Village member Jason Day and Graham DeLaet, a Presidents Cup rookie from Canada, fought back from a 3-down deficit to beat Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker 1 up. Hideki Matsuyama then made a conceded birdie on the 18th hole to enable him and Adam Scott to halve their match with Americans Webb Simpson and Bill Hass.
Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner won the first three holes in their match with South Africans Richard Sterne and Brandon Grace and never looked back, beating the International Team 5 and 3.
At that point all eyes were on the match between Stricker-Spieth and Els-de Jonge as the shadows settled over Muirfield Village. Els and de Jonge both missed birdie putts at the 17th hole to square the match and de Jonge had a 10-footer for another to earn half a point on the 18th.