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Presidents Cup 2019: Top Scores, Standings Review and Predictions for Day 2

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistDecember 12, 2019

US team captain Tiger Woods (L) and International team player Marc Leishman of Australia looks on during day one of the Presidents Cup golf tournament in Melbourne on December 12, 2019. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
WILLIAM WEST/Getty Images

The United States trail 4-1 following the opening day at the 2019 Presidents Cup, but the star-studded team has a chance to reduce the deficit in the foursome matchups on Day 2.

The International team won four of the five four-balls played on Thursday and are in form heading into the second day when the format will change slightly at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Victoria.

Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas won their opening clash to take Team USA's only point thus far in Australia, and they'll be tested in their effort to keep up that trend against Byeong-hun An and Hideki Matsuyama.

America's greatest golf talents didn't get off to the start they wanted in this year's competition, with their International counterparts already well en route to reaching the title-clinching 15-point mark.

      

2019 Presidents Cup Day 2 (Foursomes)

11:02 a.m. local time/Thursday, 7:02 p.m. ET: Dustin Johnson/Matt Kuchar (United States) vs. Louis Oosthuizen/Adam Scott (International)

11:15 a.m. local time/Thursday, 7:15 p.m. ET: Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay (United States) vs. Adam Hadwin/Joaquin Niemann (International)

11:28 a.m. local time/Thursday, 7:28 p.m. ET: Webb Simpson/Patrick Reed (United States) vs. Marc Leishman/Abraham Ancer (International)

11:41 a.m. local time/Thursday, 7:41 p.m. ET: Justin Thomas/Tiger Woods (United States) vs. Byeong Hun An/Hideki Matsuyama (International)

11:54 a.m. local time/Thursday, 7:54 p.m. ET: Gary Woodland/Rickie Fowler (United States) vs. Sungjae Im/Cameron Smith (International)

*Predicted winners in bold

      

Preview

As if Woods and Thomas weren't certain enough to receive attention as a glitzy-but-capable pairing, the dynamic duo will draw a greater crowd when they face Matsuyama and An on Friday.

The American partnership of Woods and Thomas was one of the few bright notes for their team on Day 1. Woods is captain, and sportswriter Sacha Pisani highlighted his habit of leading by example: 

Sacha Pisani @Sachk0

While the Internationals are on track to win 4 of the 5 four-ball matchups @ #PresidentsCup today, Tiger Woods was simply awesome. 6 individual birdies in a masterclass 🐯 USA team-mate Justin Thomas: "He really carried me out there" https://t.co/YmXX8qyVqJ @OmnisportNews

South Korean rookie An is making his first appearance at the Presidents Cup, but Japanese star Matsuyama is a veteran on this stage and is featuring in the competition for a fourth time.

Each player emerged victorious alongside different comrades on Thursday: Matsuyama teamed up with Pan Cheng-tsung to edge Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, while An teamed with Adam Scott to succeed.

There's no guarantee either player will perform to the same efficacy on Friday, particularly considering Woods and Thomas seem likely to benefit from their continuity.

The International representatives will be determined to carry on their form from Thursday, which included heroics such as Matsuyama's 20-yard putt on 17 (just prior to clinching his side one point):

PGA TOUR @PGATOUR

It was a historic opening day for the #IntlTeam at the @PresidentsCup. 👀 the best from the team's five matches. ⬇️ https://t.co/4LuGpbIuLX

The opening matchup of Day 2 will also draw attention as a duel between four superstar names: Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar of Team U.S. take on International heavy-hitters Louis Oosthuizen and Scott.

International captain Ernie Els has pulled no punches with his selection in this case, pitting arguably his two strongest performers against two powerhouses from the American team.

The intention seems clear on the surface: Build on Thursday's early momentum and take down two of the USA's most capable players, even if it means dedicating two of his own fiercest assets in one pairing.

Johnson was far from his best on the opening day while Kuchar didn't feature at all. In contrast, Oosthuizen paired up with Mexico's Abraham Ancer and notched the joint-biggest win of the first day (biggest for Team International), via the Golf Channel:

Golf Channel @GolfChannel

The Ancer-Oosthuizen pairing 😎 Currently 4UP thru 6. #PresidentsCup https://t.co/mfUY07Ehch

It would be a surprise if the United States did manage to cut the deficit down to two points following this matchup, although nothing can be ruled out for a team featuring Johnson and Kuchar.