The United States carried the momentum from an early birdie barrage into a dominating performance on Day 1 of the Presidents Cup. The Americans won all but one of five foursomes matches Thursday to take a 4-1 lead with three days of competition remaining.
To the Internationals’ dismay, this marks the 22nd straight Presidents Cup session after which the United States has led the overall competition. (The U.S. hasn't trailed since 2005.) Here’s how things shook out on Day 1 at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea in Incheon, South Korea:
Watson and Holmes got off to a blistering start, ripping off four straight birdies on Nos. 2-5 to take a 3-up lead. Although Scott and Matsuyama cut their deficit to just 1 down after 10 holes thanks to their impressive ball striking, both struggled with their putting and failed to take advantage of opportunities that could have squared the match or even gotten an International flag on the board. Holmes, who was announced as Jim Furyk’s replacement last week, drained a 25-footer on the 16th green to put the United States’ second point on the board.
The lone bright spot for the Internationals, Oosthuizen swung the match with a 21-foot birdie make at the ninth to take a 1-up lead at the turn. Kuchar, as many did Thursday, found the water at the par-4 11th and the Americans conceded the following hole to suddenly find themselves 3 down through 12. Kuchar and Reed halved their way to No. 16 before running out of holes, giving the Internationals their first and only win of the session.
Like their teammates in the opening match, Fowler and Walker made three straight birdies on Nos. 2-4 to take an early 3-up lead and never looked back. Lahiri and Jaidee won just two holes, at Nos. 5 and 13, both thanks to American three-putts. After making the turn 2 up, the U.S. team birdied three of the final five holes and were staring at a fourth from 6 feet on the 14th green when the match was conceded for the first point on the board.
Two up with three two play, Mickelson lipped out two putts that would have ended the match on Nos. 16 and 17. With the Americans dormie on the 17th green, Day managed to extend the match to 18 via a birdie make from 31 feet. Just when it looked like the Internationals might eke out half a point when Bowditch hit his second shot at the par-5 home hole to eagle range, Johnson answered by stuffing his own approach to 7 feet. When Day's eagle try wouldn't go, he and Bowditch conceded the hole, giving the Americans their fourth and final point of the day.
Spieth and DJ never trailed in this match, winning holes No. 1 and 2 before stretching their margin on the back nine. Two down through 10, Lee and Leishman came unraveled at the troublesome 11th, hitting three balls in the hazard that runs along the right side of the hole. The match reached its end on the 15th hole when Lee bladed his chip from short of the green nearly 50 feet past the pin.