Presidents Cup: Thursday Foursomes match recaps
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Written by Staff @PGATOUR
Quail Hollow Club course preview for Presidents Cup
The 14th Presidents Cup commenced Thursday at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, with Round 1 of competition featuring five Foursomes matches (alternate shot).
The United States won four of those matches to take a 4-1 lead entering Friday’s five Four-balls matches.
Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay started the day with a 6-and-5 victory over the Internationals’ most experienced team, Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott. It was the largest win in a Presidents Cup Foursomes match in more than a decade and moved Cantlay and Schauffele to 5-0-0 in foursomes in international team competition.
The International Team had opportunities to draw closer – it was 1-down on the back nine in four matches – but was unable to flip the script on Quail Hollow’s back nine. The Internationals’ lone victory came from Si Woo Kim and Cam Davis, who beat PGA TOUR Player of the Year Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns, 2 up.
Here’s a recap of all five matches from the Presidents Cup’s opening day:
Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele (U.S.) def. Adam Scott/Hideki Matsuyama (Intl.), 6 and 5
Scott struggled with the pace of the greens early, and the Internationals handed away the par-4 third with a three-putt. Cantlay would get hot with the putter, rolling in birdie putts on Nos. 5 (9-feet) and 6 (13-foot curler). Schauffele had but 167 yards left into the par-5 seventh after a 360-yard bomb off the tee by Cantlay, setting up another easy birdie. The U.S. was 4-up.
The Internationals birdied No. 8, but Scott missed from 8 feet for birdie at 10, a putt that would have cut the deficit to 2-down. From there, the U.S. rolled, with Scott and Matsuyama finishing with three bogeys and the match ending on 13. They fell to 1-4-1 when teamed in the Presidents Cup. Cantlay/Schauffele are 5-0 in Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup Foursomes.
QUOTES: “With the wind picking up and that storm getting close to us, we felt like the wind was all over the place. We told ourselves to ballstrike the heck of out this place, and that’s what we did. – Xander Schauffele
“We’ve played a lot of alternate-shot with each other, and I think we just feel very comfortable and confident. On a day like today, to make no bogeys, that was really good golf.” – Patrick Cantlay
Score at match’s conclusion: U.S. Team 1, International Team 0
Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas (U.S.) def. Sungjae Im/Corey Conners (International), 2 and 1
Spieth and Thomas continue to build momentum as a formidable pair in U.S. cup play, and followed the lead of teammates Cantlay/Schauffele in building a big early lead. Im and Conners, arguably the two best ballstrikers on the visiting side, were 3-down through six holes, but soon found their rhythm and made a good match of it.
Im, impressive as a rookie three years ago (3-1-1), and Conners, a rookie, won the seventh (with eagle) and ninth holes (with birdie); only a matching 10-foot birdie putt by Thomas at the short eighth kept the Internationals from winning three consecutive holes near the end of the nine. Both teams made a mess of the 11th hole (bogeys) and failed to birdie the par-5 12th.
Classic match play on the difficult 15th (normally Quail’s 18th): The Internationals had 5 feet for par; the U.S. was staring at bogey, scrambling hard after a poor drive by Spieth. Thomas made his 27-foot putt for par. Conners pulled his par putt. The U.S. left the green 2-up, not tied, and earned victory with two pars, with Im missing a 9-footer to win the 16th. The Internationals did not make a birdie on the second nine. Spieth is 6-0-0 in Presidents Cup Foursomes; Thomas is 3-0-2.
QUOTES: “You win when you pick up your partner. That switch that we had on 15 (Thomas making a long par putt) was unreal. We’re looking at going to even, and instead we leave that green 2-up. It was an unbelievable second shot and putt by Justin. It was the difference in the match.” – Jordan Spieth
“We played a really, really good team, a team that hits a lot of fairways, a lot of quality shots. I hit some unbelievably questionable shots; I think that’s why we make such a great team. We can salvage when we don’t have our best stuff on a day like today.” – Justin Thomas
Cameron Young/Collin Morikawa (U.S.) def. Tom Kim/K.H. Lee (Intl.), 2 and 1
In his Presidents Cup debut, the long-hitting Young struggled some with the putter inside 10 feet, then made a huge birdie putt from 26 feet to close out the match at the 17th.
This was an interesting match all around, with all but Morikawa heading out in their very first Presidents Cup competition. There is great interest in Kim, at age 20 the third-youngest competitor ever to compete at the Presidents Cup, and he showed some great emotion when he made a clutch par putt at 15.
Young was smashing the driver, and Morikawa was showing off his strength with his irons. But Young missed a few key putts that potentially would have stretched the slim U.S. lead. The Internationals won the 11th with a par and birdied 12 (11-foot birdie putt from Lee) to tie the match. The U.S. nudged ahead again at 13 when Morikawa stuffed a terrific approach to 3 feet. The U.S. protected that lead by making pars until Young drained the decisive putt at 17.
Score at match’s conclusion: U.S. Team 3, International Team 0
QUOTES: “It was awesome. I had a really good partner that I leaned on. The fans have been awesome, really loud, and I’m having a great time.” – Cameron Young
“It’s nice to have a good match today, and finish it off in style.” – Collin Morikawa
Si Woo Kim/Cam Davis (Intl.) def. Scottie Scheffler/Sam Burns (U.S.), 2-up
A year ago, Scheffler was the last man on the U.S. Ryder Cup side, a captain’s pick, and Burns was home watching. My, how far we’ve come. These young/old friends could be a stout pairing for years.
But the stars on this day were Kim, the former PLAYERS champion from South Korea, and Davis, a 27-year-old Presidents Cup rookie from Australia, who worked hard to get the Internationals on the board. Up against two of the hottest young talents in American golf, the Internationals scratched back from a 3-down deficit after seven holes and pulled out a stunning triumph.
The Internationals went to the 15th tee 2-down, then won the match’s final four holes. The U.S. tandem botched the difficult 15th, making double, and from there the Internationals stepped through the opening. Kim made birdie from 11 feet at 16, and Davis hit a terrific approach to just outside 3 feet at the par-4 17th.
That left the U.S. 1-down and needing to win 18 to salvage a tie. But Burns hit his tee shot left into some pine straw and Scheffler caught a limb trying to pull off an aggressive second shot. They failed to match the par the Internationals would make from just off the front of the green after a terrific lag putt by Davis.
QUOTES: “We had a brutal first nine, were kind of nervous. We don’t play much this format. Hard to figure out. We tried to keep positive, Cameron and me, and it was great, the end.” – Si Woo Kim
“That was the first shot of the day (his approach at 17) that came off exactly as I wanted, and it was a great time for that to happen. We needed that one. We wanted to get ahead for the first time and keep playing positively, and aggressively, down 18. It was really cool. Felt awesome.” – Cam Davis
Score at match’s conclusion: U.S. Team 3, International Team 1
Tony Finau/Max Homa (U.S.) def. Taylor Pendrith/Mito Pereira (Intl.), 1-up
This match was the tightest of the day, with the teams knotted heading down the final hole. An errant drive by Pereira would prove costly, with the U.S. sealing a full point with a two-putt par from 27 feet.
The U.S. side caught a nice break at the rugged 15th, the long par-4 finish of what usually is the end of the Green Mile. Homa’s second shot from a right fairway bunker was headed toward the creek running along the left side of the hole. His ball hit a rock and bounded backwards, and from there, Finau hit a deft chip and Homa stepped up and made the 9-footer to salvage par.
Both teams birdied the par-5 16th, and tied the 17th with pars. On they went to the 489-yard 18th, where Pereira had the honors but hooked his drive left. (Homa split the fairway with his tee ball, a huge advantage.) Pendrith, one of two Canadians on the International squad, hit a towering iron from 215 yards that finished in the right greenside bunker. Pereira left Pendrith 10 feet for par, but Pendrith’s putt stayed right. Bogey.
The U.S. was 2-up through seven, but the Internationals broke through at No. 8 when Pereira hit his tee shot to the fringe at the short par 4. The Internationals would trail 1-down until Pereira hit his approach to 3 feet at the short 13th to tie the match. Homa, Pendrith and Pereira all were competing in their first Presidents Cup match.
QUOTES: “Whoever hit the fairway (on 18) was going to have the big advantage, and Homey (Homa) stepped up after Mito missed the fairway. He set us up for me to aim at the middle of the green, and to force them to make a putt to halve the match. Taylor hit a good putt and just missed. Happy with the full point.” – Tony Finau
“Tony keeps me very, very calm. You can tell he’s competitive and wants to win, but he’s a soothing partner. He makes it easy.” – Max Homa
“A great start (for the team). A lot of heart. ... We have some strong pairings for the next format. We’re going to run the same offense, and try to win each session.” – U.S. Captain Davis Love III