Internationals stun USA to take early Presidents Cup lead

Tiger Woods wins his match but his side are beaten 4-1 in opening fourballs in Melbourne

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama helped the Internatioanls into a 4-1 Presidents Cup lead. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama helped the Internatioanls into a 4-1 Presidents Cup lead. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty

 

A Presidents Cup rivalry all but buried by decades of American dominance flickered back to life at Royal Melbourne on Thursday, as the unfancied Internationals stormed to a 4-1 lead by routing Tiger Woods’ United States in the fourballs matches.

Ernie Els’ rookie-laden outfit played fearlessly on a gusty day at the sandbelt course as the Internationals secured a day one lead for the first time at the biennial tournament since 2003.

Woods, only the second playing captain in the 25-year history of the tournament, upheld his end of the bargain, as he anchored a comprehensive 4&3 win with Justin Thomas over Australian Marc Leishman and Chilean debutant Joaquin Niemann.

But that was as good as it got for the US, who were consistently bamboozled by Royal Melbourne’s undulating greens.

“We’re not done, we’re not out of it yet,” said Woods, who was largely brilliant in a six-birdie round.

“This is a long week.”

Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland had been branded a dream team by US media after their pairing was announced on tournament eve.

Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas were the USA’s only fourball winners on the opening day of the Presidents Cup. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty
Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas were the USA’s only fourball winners on the opening day of the Presidents Cup. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty

But they walked off 4&3 losers after a thrashing by South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and Mexican Abraham Ancer.

Ancer had a dream Presidents Cup debut and rolled in a 68-foot bomb on the par-four 12th to all but wrap up the match.

“It’s so much fun, truly a pleasure playing with Louis,” said Ancer.

“He made it feel easy out here, which is not easy. It’s a very tough golf course ... We had a plan and I think we kept to our plan really well and I felt good out there, which gave me a lot of confidence and I made some putts.”

Home hero Adam Scott and South Korea’s An Byeong-hun made it 2-1 for the hosts when Scott rolled in a six-foot putt for par on the 17th, clinching a 2&1 win over Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau.

Canada’s Adam Hadwin and South Korean Im Sung-jae stretched the lead further with a hard-fought 1-up win against Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay.

A banner day for the Internationals was complete on the 18th hole, when Patrick Reed missed a long putt to halve the hole and concede a second 1-up win to the east Asian duo of Hideki Matsuyama and CT Pan.

Reed was under the microscope after a controversial bunker penalty in the Bahamas last week and was duly heckled by the crowd from the first tee.

He said the US needed a “lot of attitude” to pull themselves back into the contest in the foursomes on Friday.

“I think our guys are hungry. I think we’re pretty upset with how the day went on as a whole and as a group,” he said.

Presidents Cup - Results after Thursday Fourballs (USA unless stated):

Joaquin Niemann (Chi) & Marc Leishman (Aus) Lost to Tiger Woods & Justin Thomas 4 & 3

Sungjae Im (Kor) & Adam Hadwin (Can) bt Patrick Cantlay & Xander Schauffele 1 up

Byeong-Hun An (Kor) & Adam Scott (Aus) bt Tony Finau & Bryson DeChambeau 2 & 1

Cheng-Tsung Pan (Tai) & Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) bt Patrick Reed & Webb Simpson 1 up

Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) & Abraham Ancer (Mex) bt Gary Woodland & Dustin Johnson 4 & 3

International Team leads Team USA 4-1

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.