The USA got off to a strong start in the 2017 Presidents Cup on Thursday and will take a 3.5-1.5 lead over the International team into Friday.
The two sides took part in foursomes on the opening day, as Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler made short work of Charl Schwartzel and Hideki Matsuyama to start the U.S. off on the right foot as they pursue their seventh successive title in the competition.
Indeed, they won the first three before a late rally from the Internationals saw them salvage something out of the day. The PGA Tour provided highlights of the action:
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
Hole-outs from @RickieFowler and @DJohnsonPGA highlighted the first day at the @PresidentsCup. https://t.co/xLMGXziWoq2017-9-29 04:25:16
Here are the scores from Thursday:
- Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler 6-and-4 win over Charl Schwartzel and Hideki Matsuyama
- Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar 1-UP win over Adam Scott and Jhonattan Vegas
- Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth 5-and-4 win over Emiliano Grillo and Kim Si-woo
- Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen 3-and-1 win over Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger
- Phil Mickelson and Kevin Kisner halved with Jason Day and Marc Leishman
As ESPN's Jason Sobel noted, there is plenty of time left for the Internationals to come back from their two-point deficit:
Jason Sobel @JasonSobelESPN
U.S. leads 3½-1½ after opening day. Plenty of golf left. Played mathematical equivalent of 10:00 of the first quarter of a football game.2017-9-28 22:06:12
However, after taking a lead on the opening day, the Americans have never lost from that position.
Indeed, it is quite some time since they have even been behind in the Presidents Cup, per the Golf Channel's Justin Ray:
Justin Ray @JustinRayGC
After today, the US has now led after 27 straight @PresidentsCup sessions.2017-9-28 21:21:24
On Friday, the teams will play five fourball matches, with a point up for grabs in each.
Spieth and Reed will resume their partnership to take on Matsuyama and Adam Hadwin, while Fowler and Thomas will also continue, this time against victorious Internationals pair Grace and Oosthuizen.
Mickelson and Kisner face Day and Leishman in a rematch of their halved contest on Thursday, before Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman make their first appearances at this year's tournament against Schwartzel and Anirban Lahiri.
Johnson and Koepka bring up the rear against Scott and Vegas at 12:35 p.m. ET, an hour after the first match tees off.
Will Gray of the Golf Channel believes the U.S. are eyeing another strong start on Friday:
Will Gray @WillGrayGC
Stricker leads with Spieth/Reed and Fowler/Thomas Friday. Out for blood.2017-9-28 23:03:03
Indeed, there's a good chance they'll extend their lead from the outset, even with the International team's strongest pairing—Grace and Oosthuizen—standing in their way.
There's hope for the Internationals in the form of Day and Leishman, but expect the USA to enjoy another strong day on Friday.
Prediction: USA to win 4-1, extend lead to 7.5-2.5