The 2017 Presidents Cup began with the United States taking a 3.5-1.5 lead over the International team after Thursday's foursome matches.
Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler set the pace early for the American team, defeating Charl Schwartzel and Hideki Matsuyama, 6 and 4.
Since the Presidents Cup's inception in 1994, Team USA has dominated the International squad with a 9-1-1 record. America's lone defeat came in 1998, though the Internationals had their best showing since a 2003 draw in a one-point loss in 2015 (15.5-14.5).
Here are the results from each of Thursday's five foursome matches from Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey:
Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler (USA) def. Charl Schwartzel and Hideki Matsuyama (International), 6 and 4
Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson (USA) def. Jhonattan Vegas and Adam Scott (International), 1 up
Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth (USA) def. Emiliano Grillo and Si Woo Kim (International), 5 and 4
Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen (International) def. Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka (USA), 3 and 1
Phil Mickelson and Kevin Kisner (USA) halved Marc Leishman and Jason Day (International)
Thomas and Fowler needed a few holes to hit their stride. Schwartzel and Matsuyama briefly took a one-hole lead after the American duo conceded the second hole, but they proceeded to lose five of the next seven holes to make the turn down four holes.
Things could have gotten worse for Thomas and Fowler on the third hole if not for Fowler's save with this shot off the green to pull things back to even:
Even though the Internationals appeared to be in danger after that opening match ended, things did settle down.
Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth were able to put on their own clinic, knocking off Emiliano Grillo and Si Woo Kim, 5 and 4.
Spieth has been a master of the foursome at the Presidents Cup throughout his career, and partnering with Reed has been good for both players, per Sean Martin of PGATour.com:
Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar kept things rolling for the United States by squeaking out a win over Jhonattan Vegas and Adam Scott.
Vegas and Scott were at least one up on six of the first nine holes. An errant tee shot on the par-three No. 10 went 47 feet past the hole into the rough. The U.S. duo had their tee shot land on the green, 19 feet away from the hole, giving them an easy par to square things up.
After Kuchar and Johnson were able to go one up on No. 16, Kuchar hit this putt on No. 18 that nearly went in the hole and clinched the victory:
Thursday's showing for the United States is, particularly after Justin Ray of the Golf Channel highlighted the massive disparity between foursome results since 2007 and what is still to come this weekend:
The U.S. pairing of Phil Mickelson and Kevin Kisner blew a golden opportunity to give their team a bigger cushion. They went 3 up after six holes before things started falling apart on No. 8 when their second shot went into a bunker left of the green.
Marc Leishman and Jason Day won three of the four holes from No. 8 through 11 to even the match. The 11th hole was especially problematic for Mickelson and Kisner:
Leishman and Day did have an opportunity to win outright, moving one up on No. 14, but Mickelson and Kisner scored a victory on the 17th hole to halve the match.
With the Internationals keeping things close on Thursday, the pressure is on the United States heading into fourball tomorrow. The International team had a 3.5-1.5 advantage in Friday's fourball matches two years ago.
ESPN's Jason Sobel did note the International team has plenty of time to turn things around:
Team USA has held at least a one-point lead after foursomes on Thursday in each of the past six Presidents Cup events, including this year. Since they haven't lost any of the previous five, this is a good omen for the Americans the rest of this weekend.