The Presidents Cup has come alive on Day One at Royal Melbourne after the International team secured a historic 4-1 lead, the best first-day result for the team in the cup’s history.
Driving the victory home was the teaming of Abraham Ancer and Louis Oosthuizen who dominated their much higher fancied opponents of Gary Woodland and David Johnson 5 holes to 1 coming away with a 4 and 3 result.
This is only the fourth time the International Team have won the opening session and previous best happened to be in 1998 again in Melbourne.
International Team Captain Ernie Els said he didn’t envision a 4-1 start to the tournament.
“There were a lot of tight matches and a lot of crucial putts, and great golf shots,” Els commented.
“I thought the play was unbelievable. Under these conditions to score the way they did was unbelievable golf. So just played at a very high level.
“You know, we haven’t had a start like this for many, many years. So it’s really nice to have some points on the board, and you know, the committee have made some changes to the rules of the Cup.
“Obviously Tiger was involved with some of those negotiations, and that’s obviously helping us a little bit now.”
Tiger Woods was paired with Justin Thomas and teed off in the first match against Marc Leishman and Joaquin Niemann and secured an early lead for the US winning 8 holes to 4 taking the match 4 and 3.
“Well, this is a long four days,” Woods explained.
“I mean, we have to go earn this Cup. Just because we lost the session doesn’t mean the Cup’s over.
“There’s a long way to go. A lot of points available. The guys will regroup and we’ll come out tomorrow ready to go.”
US bad boy Patrick Reed featured in the closest match of the day. Alongside Webb Simpson, they were defeated 4 holes to 3 by Hideki Matsuyama and C.T. Pan.
Matsuyama got the International Team on the board with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 3 and 4. His team never trailed after that. Their point was in danger, though, after Reed authored some of his trademark dramatics.
It looked like Captain America may don his cape after he holed an 11-foot birdie putt on 16 to tie the match. Matsuyama responded by holing a 27-foot birdie putt on the next hole to guarantee at least a halve for the International Team.
“I think the biggest thing was that they made a couple more putts than we did, and you know, we ultimately bogeyed 9 and they were able to win a hole with par,” Reed said.
“That hole alone, you know, is the difference of being all-square than down. You know, in a format like this, you just can’t make bogeys and unfortunately, neither of us were able to convert.
Asked whether he expected the crowd’s reaction to him today, Reed answered in his typical brash way.
“It’s exactly what I expected.”
PRESIDENTS CUP DAY 1 RESULTS – FOUR-BALL
MATCH 1: USA wins, 4 and 3
Justin Thomas/Tiger Woods (U.S.) def. Marc Leishman/Joaquin Niemann (International)
Holes won: U.S. 8, International 4
Holes led: U.S. 15, International 0
MATCH 2: International wins, 1 up
Sungjae Im/Adam Hadwin (International) def. Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele (U.S.)
Holes won: International 3, U.S. 2
Holes led: International 8, U.S. 2
MATCH 3: International wins, 2 and 1
Byeong Hun An/Adam Scott (International) def. Tony Finau/Bryson Dechambeau (U.S.)
Holes won: International 4, U.S. 2
Holes led: International 14, U.S. 0
MATCH 4: International wins, 1 up
Hideki Matsuyama/C.T. Pan (International) def. Patrick Reed/Webb Simpson (U.S.)
Holes won: International 4, U.S. 3
Holes led: International 15, U.S. 0
MATCH 5: International wins, 4 and 3
Abraham Ancer/Louis Oosthuizen (International) def. Gary Woodland/Dustin Johnson (U.S.)
Holes won: International 5, U.S. 1
Holes led: International 14, U.S. 0