It seems nothing could stop the Fresh Princes of the course from reigning supreme Thursday at the 2013 Presidents Cup in Dublin, Ohio.
Surviving a lengthy lightning delay and solid competition from Marc Leishman and Angel Cabrera, Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar had no problems getting the United States a 5-and-4 win in their fourball matchup.
On a day that saw multiple International teams come back on a once-dominant United States, Woods and Kuchar were impressive throughout. Despite being the next-to-last group to tee off, Kuchar and Woods were the first to finish off their opponent. The U.S. is up 3.5 to 2.5 after the day's play.
As he has many times, Woods navigated the Muirfield Village course beautifully. The world's top-ranked golfer's shot was true off the tee from the get-go and knocked down multiple tough putts. Woods has won five previous times at Muirfield Village, which hosts the Memorial Tournament every year.
Kuchar matched his partner every step of the way, making for a formidable opponent that Leishman and Cabrera could not contain.
Woods also seemed far more jubilant than he has in recent major events. He and Kuchar showed great camaraderie throughout their round, celebrating multiple times by reenacting Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff's famous handshake from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Kuchar took credit for the handshake, which the duo broke out after clutch putts, though he might want to have a refresher on the origin of the story:
Kuchar takes credit for Fresh Prince handshake, calls Tiger "the perfect Carlton," apparently forgetting it's not a Carlton move.— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) October 3, 2013
And there were many clutch putts to be celebrated. It seemed from the opening hole that whenever Woods would miss a putt, Kuchar would be there backing him up and vice versa. The string began on the first hole, where Kuchar put the United States side 1-up, and continued throughout the utterly dominant round.
The Internationals, meanwhile, struggled mightily with their putting. As Woods and Kuchar were tag-teaming birdies, Leishman and Cabrera had to continually settle for pars. The Aussie-Argentine duo squandered multiple opportunities to keep the match close or even draw it closer, only for their reads to be well off.
After winning the first hole, the two sides halved the next four, thanks in large part to those missed putts from the International side. Fox Sports' Robert Lusetich noticed a higher comfort level on the greens for the Americans throughout the day:
Just before the rain delay, Woods began leading the charge toward extending the lead. He hit a beautiful drive up the right side of the fairway, stuck the landing on his approach, and stroked an easy birdie putt on No. 6, putting him and Kuchar 2-up.
The pairings attempted to play the seventh hole, but quickly heard the horn. The delay lasted just over an hour. The PGA Tour's official Twitter feed sent out a Vine of the scene in Ohio:
After the rains subsided, it looked like Cabrera and Leishman had found their bearings. Both sides matched birdies on the seventh—including a critical save from Woods—but the Internationals quickly pulled within one down on the eighth.
It would be their only semblance of momentum.
Cabrera and Leishman followed up their win at No. 8 by missing the fairway and hitting the ball into the drink, respectively, allowing Kuchar to hit an easy birdie to bring the United States back ahead two. Cabrera missed a gimme for par on No. 10, allowing Tiger's tap-in to extend the lead by another hole.
The only notable sign of struggle for Woods came on the 11th. After a punch into the fairway following his errant tee shot, Woods smacked his approach into the water below the green. Luckily, Kuchar was there to pick up the slack for his partner and halve the hole.
Following the round, Woods broke out his Dr. Seuss knowledge to come up with a proper metaphor for how he and his partner played together:
Tiger post round: "I think we ham & egged it pretty good." #SeemsSo— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) October 3, 2013
Woods and Kuchar would then trade off birdies on the 12th and 13th, pushing their lead to an insurmountable 5-up with five holes remaining. ESPN's Bob Harig noted what a vast contrast Thursday's opening round was to Woods' Ryder Cup experience:
Tiger went 0-3-1 at Ryder Cup. Now 5-up with 5 to play, Kuchar as partner. #PresCup— Bob Harig (@BobHarig) October 3, 2013
The win brings Tiger, who notoriously struggles at Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup formats, to a 6-9 record in fourball play at this event. According to ESPN's Justin Ray, however, Woods did move into first place all time with 21 Presidents Cup victories:
Tiger Woods: 21st career match won at @PresidentsCup - passes Jim Furyk for most matches won all-time.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) October 3, 2013
With the proliferation of joy and success on the course, Woods and Kuchar should get an opportunity to add to that total this week.
Similarly structured to the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup pits International golfers versus ones from the United States in a team-based points competition. Each of the first three days of the event see competitors paired with a teammate. Thursday's fourball competition leads to Friday's foursomes, and then there is a mix of the two on Saturday. The final day of the tournament is reserved for singles match play.
Team captain Fred Couples will have his choice on pairings. Nick Price serves in the same role for the International team.
Following Thursday's action, let's just say Price will spend a long time at the drawing board trying to find the right pairing to take down Kuchar and Woods.
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