Americans hit back to take lead at Presidents Cup event

Americans hit back to take lead at Presidents Cup event

Americans hit back to take lead at Presidents Cup event

Defending champion United States clawed back from early deficits to seize the momentum and a 4-2 lead over the Internationals after the opening day foursomes at The Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne yesterday.

For the third straight event, the Americans grabbed the early advantage after the opening foursomes as they look to extend their dominance in the biennial teams event.

The non-European International team let slip leads in four of the six matches to relinquish a promising start as they chase only their second victory in nine Presidents Cups.

The Americans’ defiant fightback came despite the prominent pairing of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker crashing to a seven and six thrashing at the hands of Australian Adam Scott and South Korea’s K.J. Choi.

But the US team finished the opening day of the four-day teams event in charge after wins by Bubba Watson/Webb Simpson, Hunter Mahan/David Toms and Phil Mickelson/Jim Furyk.

Bill Haas/Nick Watney and Dustin Johnson/Matt Kuchar fought back to halve their matches and take the steam out of the Internationals, who were enjoying home support from large Australian galleries.

“Point-wise, we are more excited than we were an hour and a half before the end of the day,” US team captain Fred Couples said.

“But that’s happened before and our guys fought hard. At the end of the day it was Billy Haas and Nick Watney getting a half a point from Schwartzel and Ogilvy in an unbelievable match.

“And then Dustin Johnson made a very nice putt to get a half a point. 3 1/2 to 2 1/2 is great. Obviously 4-2, we are excited about that.”

Captain Greg Norman said his International team had let slip match-winning positions and urged them to put the disappointment behind them and look to bounce back in Friday’s fourballs.

“We are disappointed in the result. My guys felt like they let a few matches slip away, no question about it,” Norman said.

“They know the weather conditions are going to change a little bit and the next three days are going to be different than what it was today.

“We didn’t get the job done at the end of the day. It’s unfortunate for us we are behind, but we believe we can no doubt catch up and probably catch up in our belief tomorrow.”

Australian Geoff Ogilvy and his South African partner Charl Schwartzel were two up with four holes to play only to bogey the 16th and 18th holes and allow Haas and Watney to square the match.

The all-Australian pair of Aaron Baddeley and Jason Day were leading two up with two holes left but faltered with a bogey-bogey finish to halve their match.

The Internationals’ only major scalp was the unexpected huge win over Woods and Stricker, who were unbeaten at the 2009 Cup.

“We were just obviously slightly off,” Woods said. “It’s one of those things where we got down a little bit early, tried to make up some shots and these guys were playing well.”

Scott, who now has Woods’s old outspoken caddie Steve Williams carrying his bag, was relatively low-key after the significant victory.

“KJ and I didn’t get it out of position today, which is a good thing on this golf course. We both played very well, and they didn’t play their best,” he said.

“A good win because they were a tough team last time, took a lot of points off us, so it was pleasing to get one up there.”

The Americans set up victories at the previous two Presidents Cups by winning their opening foursomes in Montreal (2007) and San Francisco (2009).

Norman altered four of his teams for Friday’s fourball, pairing Scott with South Korea’s Kim Kyung-Tae, Ogilvy with Choi, Y.E. Yang with Robert Allenby and South Africans Retief Goosen and Schwartzel.

Couples broke up the losing Woods-Stricker combination, pairing Woods with Johnson and Stricker with Kuchar.