There were no surprises on the first day of the 14th edition of the Presidents Cup. The historic dominance of the United States in the foursomes was once again demonstrated and the result is 4-1 in favor of the locals.
Trevor Immelman, captain of Team International, decided to send his two strongest pairings in the first two matches to see if he could put a quick point on the board. The strategy did not work, basically because the Australian duo Adam Scott and the Japanese Hideki Matsuyama played very badly. Especially Scott, who was erratic off the tee and got his partner in trouble most of the day, but also didn’t make the few putts he did have. That combination against a solid pair like Cantlay/Schauffele is synonymous with beating and that’s how that first match ended on the 13th hole. When played by holes, if a team has an advantage of 6 holes won and there are only 5 to play, the match ends because there is no way to reverse the result. Thus this match had a result of 6 and 5.
After that first bucket of cold water for Immelman, the rest of the matches were much more even and some results could have been very different, but we already know that in these 18-hole matches a putt made at the right time makes all the difference. That happened in the second game when Spieth and Thomas came to the 15th tee ahead by 1. There the Americans shot for par from 7 meters, while their rivals did it from much closer. Thomas holed out first, Conners missed from 2 meters, and a game that could have been tied with 3 to play went in favor of the hosts by 2. The game ended in the 17th minute and the United States made the score 2-0. In the back, rookie Cameron Young holed a long putt on the 17th and along with Colin Morikawa gave the USA the third point by beating the Korean pair of Lee and Kim.
Yesterday I told you that the last two matches were the most likely to fall to the United States side and it was the opposite. Kim and Davis were the two players who arrived in the worst shape and faced the number 1 and 12 in the world. The visitors did not get off to a good start, but little by little they settled down and Kim holed a great putt on the 16th to keep the match even. In the next chapter it was his teammate who hit a great second and the birdie put them in front for the first time that day. A solid par on the last hole gave the visitors the first point. In the final match, the Chilean Mito Pereira and the Canadian Taylor Pendrith fought all day, at first against the logical nerves of debut, and then against a very good couple such as Tony Finau and Max Homa.. Finau won two straight weeks on the PGA Tour in late July and his partner is coming off a win last week in the tournament that opened the 22/23 PGA Tour season. So all the internationals managed to reach the 18th tee evenly, but Pereira hit a very bad tee shot and Pendrith couldn’t hole the putt from 3 meters to save the tie.
Today, Friday, there will be another 5 games, but this time it will be in the mode known as FourBall. This means that everyone plays their own ball and the best of each side in each hole is the one that counts. Here it is much easier to make birdies and to win a match you will need many. It will be extremely rare to see them win a hole with par for the simple reason that it is rare at this level for both to play a hole poorly. Both captains made changes to the formations of their teams and by the end of matchday two all members of both teams will have played at least one match. The Colombian Sebastián Muñoz and the South African Christian Bezuindenhout will have their place, while on the other side Billy Horschel and Kevin Kisner will see action for the first time this week. Some of those who did not play well on Thursday return to the field, the case of Scott, but this was common knowledge. The Aussie is likely to play every session and his game should be a catastrophe for Immelman to feel.
The transmission starts earlier on Friday because with the 4 players playing their own ball everything slows down. Any match that goes to 18 will take at least 5 1/2 hours. Starting at 11:30 am ET we’ll be on the Golf Channel screen to bring you everything that’s happening on the Quail Hollow course. In the meantime I leave you the matches of the second day so that you can throb. For now the result is 4-1 in favor of the locals.
Adam Scott/Cameron Davis vs. Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas
Sungjae Im/Sebastian Munoz vs. Scottie Scheffler/Sam Burns
Mito Pereira/ C. Bezuidehout vs. Kevin Kisner/ Cameron Young
Hideki Matsuyama/Tom Kim vs. Patrick Cantlay/X.Schauffele
Corey Conners/Taylor Pendrith vs. Billy Horschel/Max Homa