The U.S. got off to a strong start in the Presidents Cup on Thursday with a 4-1 lead over the Internationals.
Setting the tone for Team USA in the foursome was the pairing of Patrick Cantley and Zand Schauffele — the only other defending team event champions on the PGA Tour calendar who played in New Orleans last season. Won the Zurich Classic.
Playing against Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, the American was a well-oiled machine, leading by four over the first seven holes, including three straight birdies.
While they were the creators of their own early success, the international duo fell apart on the back nine, with three consecutive bogeys costing the U.S. three more holes to finish at 6-5.
The rest of the game was more competitive, with Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas taking down the duo of Corey Connors and Lim Sungjae 2-1.
Once again, the Americans led by three over six holes, then the International took two of the next three holes to tighten the game.
The 15th was game-changing, as a poor tee shot and a mediocre chip rolled to the edge of the green would cost the U.S. a hole in their favor.
Tom Kim and Lee Kyoung-hoon, the only internationals to get the first blood, led by one stroke on the second hole, but ended the front nine down by two strokes as Cameron Young and Collin Morikawa responded quickly.
Back-to-back victories on the 11th and 12th holes tied the score, but the Americans quickly regained the lead on the next hole, birdieing the 17th hole for a 2-1 victory.
Max Homa and Tony Finau had to wait until the final hole for wins over Taylor Pendrith and Mito Pereira after the Internationals tied the game at 5.
After four shared holes in a row, Pendress found a bunker on the final hole’s approach and they couldn’t save a par as the American kept it clean with a comfortable two-putt for a 1up victory.
The only international victory came from South Korea’s Kim Si-woo and Australia’s Cam Davis against world number one Scotty Scheffler and Sam Burns, who won 2-1.
It was a great fight back as the U.S. led most of the round — three after seven holes and two at 14 — with the International winning by one point over the final four holes.
Friday will see the teams go head-to-head in a four-goal format.