THE previously unbeaten pairing of Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker received a spanking but overall the Americans took an early lead on the first day of the 2011 Presidents Cup.
The Americans were down early in a number of the Foursomes matches but reversed the momentum to lead 4 points to 2 after the completion of the first round.
Fred Couples’ team won three matches quite convincingly, the Internationals won one and the remaining two were halved.
In the last match on the course, Jason Day and Aaron Baddeley had a point seemingly in the bag but bogeyed the last two holes to allow Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar to salvage a draw. It was a bitter blow and a poor end to the day for the Internationals who had seemed to be sailing along quite nicely mid round.
Geoff Ogilvy and Charl Schwartzel also blew what seemed another point for Greg Norman’s International Team when they were 2 up with four holes to play. Bill Haas and Nick Watney got back to square on 16 and the match ended all square on 18.
In what was seen as the feature match of the first round, Adam Scott and K.J. Choi went 1 up after the second hole and were never headed. They won at a canter on the 12th hole 7 & 6, inflicting the first ever Presidents Cup loss to the Woods/Stricker duo.
In the first match Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikawa faced the popular US pairing of Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson.
The Americans received a very warm welcome when they were introduced to the crowd. But the roar that greeted the Internationals made it plain where the spectator loyalty will lie this week.
The young Japanese and the iconic South African got off to a great start and were two up after four holes.
Els downhill 15 foot birdie putt on the 4th hole, probably the fastest and slickest surface on a course notorious for its greens, brought the house down.
However, two holes later it was all square and the slide continued till the Americans won 4 up on the 16th.
In the fourth match the elder statesmen of the US Team, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk were also down early but turned it around on the 8th hole, went to 4 up on the 12th and retained that lead to the 15th, winning 4 & 3.
The ever steady team of Hunter Mahan and David Toms won the first hole against the Korean pairing of Y.E Yang and K. T. Kim. The Americans won the match 6 & 5.
Norman said at a media conference later he thought with an hour and a half to go the day would end at three all. Couples agreed 4 to 2 was better than they expected.
[quote]Couples: “our guys fought hard”[/quote]
“Well, obviously, point wise, we are more excited than we were an hour and a half before the day ended,” Couples said. “But that’s happened before, and our guys fought hard.
“Like Greg, we had one easy match and we had two semi lopsided matches. But really, the end of the day, it was Billy Haas and Nick Watney getting a half a point from Schwartzel and Ogilvy. It was an unbelievable match. And then as you saw at the end, Dustin Johnson made a very nice putt to get a half a point.
“You know, 3 1/2 to 2 1/2 is great. Obviously 4 – 2, we are excited about that.”
Norman responded: “At the opposite end of the spectrum, we are disappointed in the 2 – 4 result. My guys felt like they let a few matches slip away, no question about it.”
“But they all understand, it’s the game of golf. It does happen. Their heads are really held high. They are not worried about the next three days going forward. They are actually looking forward to it. They all feel like they are playing extremely good golf. They know the weather conditions are going to change a little bit; an adaptation to the golf course and the conditions coming forth over the next three days are going to be different than what it was today. You know, 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.”
Four Ball Matches Friday November 18
With adverse weather conditions predicted later in the day, the Round 2 Four-ball match tee times were shifted to start from 9.35am
The pairings are listed in their announced order, as each captain alternates in making the first pick for each match:
MATCH 1 – Bubba Watson-Webb Simpson, U.S. vs. Ernie Els-Ryo Ishikawa, International
MATCH 2 – Jason Day-Aaron Baddeley, International vs. Tiger Woods-Dustin Johnson, U.S.
MATCH 3 – Phil Mickelson-Jim Furyk, U.S. vs. Adam Scott-K.T. Kim, International
MATCH 4 – Geoff Ogilvy-K.J. Choi, International vs. Bill Haas-Nick Watney, U.S.
MATCH 5 – Steve Stricker-Matt Kuchar, U.S. vs. Y.E. Yang-Robert Allenby, International
MATCH 6 – Charl Schwartzel-Retief Goosen, International vs. Hunter Mahan-David Toms
U.S. Captain Fred Couples said the plan all along was to split up Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in four-ball, even before the duo were thumped 7 and 6 by Adam Scott and K.J. Choi in Thursday’s foursomes. “We were going to do that on Tuesday and Wednesday,” Couples said of putting Woods with Dustin Johnson . . . International Captain Greg Norman said he split up the Scott-Choi combo because he wanted Scott to help K.T. Kim with his lines off the tee in Friday’s winds, which are expected to blow from the north-northwest. “K.T. has never played in a north-northwest win,” Norman said. “It’s going to be crucial for him getting direction.” . . . That reason is the same one that Norman used to keep Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikawa together, even though they lost 4 and 2 to Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson on Thursday . . . Couples said he expects Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson to “play a lot together.” . . . The opening match features the same four players who played in Thursday’s opening match.