United States hold narrow lead in Presidents Cup
Internationals mount fightback after weather delay in Ohio to cut lead to one point
However, the Internationals did well to salvage 1.5 more points from two of the earlier matches out.
Australian Jason Day sank a 22-foot birdie putt at the last to seal a 1-up win in tandem with Canada’s Graham DeLaet over Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker, after they had been three down after six holes.
US Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who never led and trailed by two with four holes to play, fought back to square their match against Bill Haas and Webb Simpson.
The 21-year-old Matsuyama almost sank his approach at the last, his tap-in for birdie earning the Internationals a valuable half-point.
“What we showed today is that there’s plenty of heart on this team,” said Scott, who has competed in five previous Presidents Cups but has yet to taste an International victory.
“We were in ordinary shape for a while and now, 3.5 to 2.5 isn’t a big deal.”
Prior to their late fightback, the Internationals were clearly feeling the pressure in the matchplay format they prefer, as they have traditionally struggled in the foursomes.
Their captain Nick Price felt he had gained a valuable concession with fourballs featuring in the opening Cup session for the first time since the 1996 edition of the biennial team competition, and had been hoping for a fast start.
But it was the Americans who came charging out of the gate after former president George W Bush had greeted both teams before they teed off at the par-four first in front of packed grandstands.
Captain Fred Couples, who was given a cake by the International team for his 54th birthday, watched in delight as his players seized early control before play was suspended due to the threat of lightning.
“Our guys were rocking and rolling,” said Couples. “The rain delay obviously helped them. They played their hearts out.”
The US have dominated the Presidents Cup by winning seven times in nine editions, most recently with a 19-15 victory at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia two years ago.
The only success for the Internationals came in 1998 when the event was first staged in Melbourne. In 2003, the two teams battled to a 17-17 draw in South Africa.