The United States cemented their status as big favourites for the Presidents Cup on Thursday with a dominant showing in the foursomes matches and will be expected to pull away from the International squad in the Friday fourballs.
The home team lead 3.5-1.5 after one day of play, with Steve Stricker's picks doing the business. With that in mind, it's little surprise three of the five pairings from Thursday will take to the course again on Day 2.
International skipper Nick Price, meanwhile, has opted to mix things up as his players struggled to cope with their opponents in the main. Here's how things are shaping up on Friday and a look at some of the standout fourball clashes.
Friday Fourballs Schedule (USA first, tee times in ET)
11:35 a.m.—Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth vs. Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Hadwin
11:50 a.m.—Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler vs. Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen
12:05 p.m.—Kevin Kisner and Phil Mickelson vs. Marc Leishman and Jason Day
12:20 p.m.—Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell vs. Anirban Lahiri and Charl Schwartzel
12:35 p.m.—Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson vs. Jhonattan Vegas and Adam Scott
Reed and Spieth vs. Matsuyama and Hadwin
One of the most fascinating factors of these team competitions is the manner in which certain golfers striker up affinities with others. Spieth and Reed are two players who continue to impress when in tandem.
The duo have represented the United States as a pair on nine occasions, and Thursday's 5 & 4 win over Emiliano Grillo and Si Woo Kim gave them their sixth win as a duo. The steely composure and focus of Spieth blends perfectly with the passion and power of his partner.
After their win, Spieth admitted there's some internal competition there too. "I really think it's because we want to beat each other," he admitted, per Steve DiMeglio of USA Today. "We're always cheering for each other, but each of us wants to make the winning putt, hit the great shot. It's kind of a competition in itself that just works for us."
As noted by Will Gray of the Golf Channel, in putting these two at the top of the schedule, Stricker is keeping his foot on the throat of the International team:
Will Gray @WillGrayGC
Stricker leads with Spieth/Reed and Fowler/Thomas Friday. Out for blood.2017-9-28 23:03:03
Indeed, it's going to take a monumental effort from Matsuyama and Hadwin to get the better of the United States' star pairing.
Price will want Matsuyama, the world No. 3, to set tone in this match alongside the Presidents Cup rookie, but the Japanese's game didn't appear to be in the best order on Day 1. It's difficult to see, especially in the fourball format, how Spieth and Reed don't put another point on the board for the United States here.
Prediction: Reed and Spieth 3 & 2
Thomas and Fowler vs. Grace and Oosthuizen
The second match of the day is arguably the most intriguing, as the star United States duo from Thursday meet the International squad's only winners so far.
Thomas played with the authority of a man who has enjoyed an incredible year on Day 1, having won his first major title and the lucrative FedEx Cup in 2017. He and Fowler were majestic in the way they downed the International team's marquee pairing of Matsuyama and Schwartzel, coasting to a 6 & 4 victory.
As noted by ESPN's Jason Sobel, if you'd blinked during that match you may well have missed it:
Jason Sobel @JasonSobelESPN
First point on the board for the U.S., as Rickie Fowler/Justin Thomas win, 6 and 4. Barely had time to work up a decent sweat in that one.2017-9-28 20:13:05
The highlight of the day from the International perspective was the way in which Oosthuizen and Grace dovetailed in their 3 & 1 win over Koepka and Daniel Berger.
The South African duo showed their experience in this particular format with some savvy play throughout in the foursomes. And, like Reed and Spieth, there's a clear chemistry between the duo when they're out on course together.
Per Sean Martin, Oosthuizen is becoming a talisman in these team matches, especially when alongside Grace:
Sean Martin @PGATOURSMartin
Louis Oosthuizen is undefeated in his past seven Presidents Cup matches (5-0-2). He and Grace are on a five-match winning streak together.2017-9-28 21:34:30
Their perfect record will be challenged here, as Fowler and Thomas are both in excellent form at the moment.
If the United States are on top in the first game of the day, there'll be huge pressure on Grace and Oosthuizen to get some blue on the board and keep the International team in touch. Expect them to rise to the challenge in a tight tussle.
Prediction: Grace and Oosthuizen 1 Up