U.S. Retain Early Control At Presidents Cup

by
Reuters
The United States remained in overall control midway through Thursday's opening fourballs at the Presidents Cup following a suspension in play for just under an hour-and-a-half because of a thunderstorm.

* U.S. lead in five of six matches

* Thunderstorm halts play for an hour and a half

The United States remained in overall control midway through Thursday's opening fourballs at the Presidents Cup following a suspension in play for just under an hour-and-a-half because of a thunderstorm.

Seeking to win the trophy for an eighth time in 10 editions of the biennial team competition, the Americans led in five of the six matches and trailed in one at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker spectacularly set the tone in the first match out, making five birdies in the first five holes and were one up on Australian Jason Day and Canada's Graham DeLaet with four holes to play.

Bill Haas and Webb Simpson were two up on Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama after 14 holes in a contest of high quality while Steve Stricker and rookie Jordan Spieth were two up on South African Ernie Els and Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge after 12 holes.

Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar were three up on Argentina's Angel Cabrera and Australian Marc Leishman, after 11 holes, while PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson were two up on South Africans Branden Grace and Richard Sterne, after 10.

In the third match, South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel clawed their way back from two down to one up on Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley after 13 holes to give the Internationals some hope of loosening the early U.S. control.

Bradley had put the Americans two up by sinking a six-foot eagle putt at the par-five seventh but the South Africans won the next two holes with birdies, Oosthuizen draining a 16-footer at the eighth and Schwartzel tapping in a two-footer at the ninth.

Oosthuizen then put the Internationals one up by sinking a three-foot birdie putt at par-five 11th.

At one point, the Internationals had trailed in all six matches and were clearly feeling the pressure in the matchplay format they prefer, as they have traditionally struggled in the foursomes.

Internationals captain Nick Price felt he had gained a valuable concession with fourballs featuring in the opening Cup session for the first time since the 1996 edition of the biennial team competition, and had been hoping for a fast start.

But it was the Americans who came charging out of the gate after former U.S. President George W. Bush had greeted both teams before they teed off at the par-four first in front of packed grandstands.

U.S. captain Fred Couples, who was presented with a cake by the International team for his 54th birthday, watched in delight as his players seized early control of the matches.

The U.S. have dominated the Presidents Cup by winning seven times in nine editions, most recently with a 19-15 victory at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia two years ago.

The only success for the Internationals came in 1998 when the event was first staged in Melbourne. In 2003, the two teams battled to a 17-17 draw in South Africa.