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Presidents Cup 2019 Leaderboard: Day 1 Scores, Top Pairings and Twitter Reaction

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistDecember 12, 2019

U.S. team player and captain Tiger Woods watches his approach shot on the 6th hole during their fourball match at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club in the opening rounds of the President's Cup golf tournament in Melbourne, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
Andy Brownbill/Associated Press

The U.S. team finds itself in a 4-1 hole after the first day of action at the 2019 Presidents Cup from Australia's Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

In four-ball format, Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas got the Americans off to a good start with a 4-and-3 win over Joaquin Niemann and Marc Leishman on Thursday (Wednesday in the U.S.). That was the only outright win for the U.S. squad, which lost each of the final four matches.

     

2019 Presidents Cup Results—Day 1 (Four-Ball)

Tiger Woods/Justin Thomas (USA) def. Joaquin Niemann/Marc Leishman (International), 4 and 3

Sungjae Im/Adam Hadwin (International) vs. Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele (USA), 1-up

Byeong Hun An/Adam Scott (International) def. Tony Finau/Bryson DeChambeau (USA), 2 and 1

C.T. Pan/Hideki Matsuyama (International) def. Patrick Reed/Webb Simpson (USA), 1-up

Louis Oosthuizen/Abraham Ancer (International) def. Gary Woodland/Dustin Johnson (USA), 4 and 3

     

The duo of Woods and Thomas wasted no time asserting itself against Niemann and Leishman. Woods hit a birdie on the No. 1 to go 1-up right out of the gate. It was the first of five birdies in just 15 holes for the 2019 Masters champion on the day.

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

The tee shot. 🎯 The putt. 🕳️ The fist pump. 👊 @TigerWoods' fifth individual birdie of the day has his pair 3 UP with 4 holes to go. https://t.co/iMsnmKgoay

Alex Myers @AlexMyers3

Tiger Woods makes 6 birdies in 15 holes in his first match as a playing captain. Hope his back is OK, though, after carrying JT around Royal Melbourne. #PresidentsCup

That is the latest encouraging sign for Woods, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in August. He's shown no signs of fatigue recently, winning the ZOZO Championship in October and finishing fourth in the Hero World Challenge last week.

If there was any concern the international team would fold in the wake of an early defeat, Sungjae Im and Adam Hadwin put it to rest with an impressive showing against Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.

There was more drama in this matchup compared to the dominance displayed by Woods and Thomas, but Im dazzled early with an eagle on the first hole:

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Sungjae Im led the TOUR in eagles last season (18). He's got the home crowd going with one early on @PresidentsCup. https://t.co/gm2CYWTlTp

That lead would hold up through five holes until Cantlay finally got things back to even with a birdie on No. 6 and Schauffele put them up one on the next hole. Im squared things up before making the turn with a par putt on the ninth hole.

Things finally turned on No. 16 when Hadwin made par. He was the only one of the four players to par the hole. Cantlay misfired with a double bogey, and Schauffele had to settle for a bogey. Im and Hadwin made that stand for the final two holes to secure the 1-up victory.

The international team's most dominant performance came from the duo of Louis Oosthuizen and Abraham Ancer. They took control on the second hole and increased their lead over Gary Woodland and Dustin Johnson to 4-up by the fifth hole

Johnson tried to make things interesting on No. 11 when he nearly hit an ace, but his short game wound up costing the U.S. an opportunity to close the gap to two:

Golf Central @GolfCentral

Dustin Johnson nearly aced the par-4 11th hole before missing a short eagle putt. He and Gary Woodland remain 3 down to Louis Oosthuizen and Abe Ancer. #PresidentsCup

One player who had the short game working was Adam Scott, whose clutch birdie putt on No. 14 from 11.5 feet out kept him and Byeong Hun An up two over the American tandem of Tony Finau and Bryson DeChambeau.

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

Keeping it going. @AdamScott sinks his putt and keeps the 2 UP lead for his pair heading to the 15 hole. https://t.co/yaXBBTEzng

The United States' best hope to at least secure one-half point in the late matches came from Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson. Reed's birdie on No. 16 squared the match for the first time since the second hole.

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

The perfect time for a clutch birdie. @PReedGolf comes up big for the #USTeam on 16 to tie the match with two holes to play. https://t.co/qDJ6HzNhlw

C.T. Pan and Hideki Matsuyama immediately got back on track when Matsuyama came up clutch with a birdie putt from 28 feet out to give the international team a one-shot lead.

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

To go 1 UP heading to the final hole ... ... Hideki Matsuyama is CLUTCH. https://t.co/Zwk3dlxWMM

That putt was emblematic of how everything was going right for the international side and wrong for Team USA. In each of the previous two Presidents Cup events, the Americans held at least a two-point lead.

The U.S. will have to make up three points if it wants to win outright for the seventh consecutive time. It's not an insurmountable deficit, but this wasn't the start the United States envisioned on this trip to Australia.