Presidents Cup match previews: Thursday Foursomes
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Written by Staff @PGATOUR
Davis Love III on U.S. Team being favorites at Presidents Cup
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Presidents Cup three years in the making is finally here.
After a one-year delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this four-day competition between the U.S. and International teams begins Thursday at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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The home team, headlined by PGA TOUR Player of the Year Scottie Scheffler, is heavily favored but an inspired International Team has rallied around its underdog status. Veteran members of the visiting team like Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama are looking for revenge after the United States’ Sunday comeback at Royal Melbourne in 2019, while exciting rookies like Tom Kim bring energy to the International Team.
Thursday’s first round features five Foursomes matches. In that format, otherwise known as alternate shot, two-man teams from each side will face off, with team members alternating hitting the ball until it is holed.
Thursday’s first tee time is at 1:05 p.m. ET, with matches following in 12-minute intervals. To get you ready for the opening round, here are previews of Thursday’s matches.
SCHAUFFELE: “Our style of play is very similar. Throw it to the fat part of the greens, try to take advantage of par-5s, low stress. For the most part, we sort of see shots the same way, and I think that's why our guys say foursomes is so good for us.”
Player records: Cantlay (3-2-0 overall; 2-0-0 Foursomes); Schauffele (3-2-0 overall; 2-0-0 Foursomes); Scott (16-22-6 overall; 7-9-2 Foursomes); Matsuyama (6-7-4 overall; 1-4-1 Foursomes)
Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas (U.S.) vs. Sungjae Im/Corey Conners (International), 1:17 p.m. Eastern
There was little doubt that Spieth and Thomas would play together. They grew up playing junior golf together, are good friends, have teamed up in the past, and have even been hanging out together at Quail Hollow Club this week. They even play the same model of golf ball, which matters in this format. On Tuesday, Spieth and Thomas played a practice round match against Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, another obvious U.S. team (see: Match 1) and came out on top.
“That’s a brutal pair to lose to because they’re sore winners,” Schauffele said. “They like to rub it in your face.”
Thomas showed just how much he loves this event at Royal Melbourne in 2019, going 3-1-1. Spieth missed the last Presidents Cup, but is undefeated in Foursomes. Im and Conners, a Presidents Cup rookie, will be a new pairing for the International Team. Both are considered consummate tee-to-green players, an important skill in Foursomes.
Player records: Spieth (8-5-1 overall; 5-0-0 Foursomes); Thomas (6-2-2 overall; 2-0-2 Foursomes); Im (3-1-1; 0-1-1 Foursomes); Conners (0-0-0 overall).
Cameron Young/Collin Morikawa (U.S.) vs. Tom Kim/K.H. Lee (Intl.), 1:29 p.m. Eastern
Pairing Morikawa and Young is like using the Create-A-Player option in a video game. You have one of the TOUR’s top iron players, but with an additional 30 yards off the tee. And Young gains strokes on the greens, an improvement over Morikawa in that aspect of the game, as well. It’s a formula that we saw have success last year, when Morikawa went 2-0-0 in Foursomes alongside Dustin Johnson at the Ryder Cup.
Morikawa and Young, a product of nearby Wake Forest, are facing two Presidents Cup rookies, but both of whom won this year. Kim is the International Team’s spark plug, a 20-year-old who’s full of energy and is coming off an exciting summer that culminated with his Wyndham Championship win. He would’ve ranked sixth in Strokes Gained: Approach last season if he had enough rounds to qualify and his putter can get hot, as we saw at the Wyndham, where he gained more than 12 strokes on the greens.
Player records: Young (0-0-0 overall; 0-0-0 Foursomes); Collin Morikawa (0-0-0 overall; 0-0-0 Foursomes); Kim (0-0-0 overall; 0-0-0 Foursomes); Lee (0-0-0 overall; 0-0-0 Foursomes)
Scottie Scheffler/Sam Burns (U.S.) vs. Si Woo Kim/Cam Davis (Intl.), 1:41 p.m. Eastern
It is certainly not a surprise to see world No. 1 Scheffler paired with great friend Burns in their first foray into the Presidents Cup. The two have shared a close bond since they were teenagers and combined for an incredible seven PGA TOUR wins last season.
Scheffler is a ball-striking machine who launched his career after a successful Ryder Cup debut a year ago while Burns brings an edge on the greens to this duo, especially given the putting surfaces are his preferred Bermudagrass.
On the International side sits former PLAYERS champion Kim and rookie Davis. They have their work cut out for them but have both vowed to play aggressive golf in an attempt to unsettle their more fancied rivals.
SCHEFFLER: “Sam and I both play pretty similar. The close friendship would help. We know each other's games pretty well and know each other's personalities well.”
DAVIS: “There's no reason to play safe or do anything like that. We're doing match play. We play aggressive. The golf course is set up to play aggressive. We're really, really excited to get started.”
Player records: Scheffler (0-0-0 overall; 0-0-0 Foursomes); Burns (0-0-0 overall; 0-0-0 Foursomes); Kim (1-2-0 overall; 0-1-0 Foursomes); Davis (0-0-0 overall; 0-0-0 Foursomes)
Tony Finau/Max Homa (U.S.) vs. Taylor Pendrith/Mito Pereira (Intl.), 1:53 p.m. Eastern
The fifth match will see three rookies, two for the International Team, begin their Presidents Cup careers. Pereira, of Chile, just completed a rookie campaign that was notable for how close he came to winning the PGA Championship one year after his three-win season on the Korn Ferry Tour.
His partner Pendrith had a close call of his own, contending at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July before falling back in the final round. The man he played with that day, Finau, won the Rocket Mortgage for his second victory in as many weeks and will be the veteran of this match, having also played in the 2021 Ryder Cup (1-2-0).
Homa, meanwhile, might be the hottest player of this foursome, coming off a wild victory Sunday at the Fortinet Championship in Napa, California. He’s also one of the most passionate, having made it one of the biggest goals of the 2022 season to make his first U.S. Presidents Cup Team.
Player records: Finau (0-1-3 overall; 0-0-1 Foursomes); Homa (0-0-0 overall); Pendrith (0-0-0 overall); Pereira (0-0-0 overall).