Day 1 of The Presidents Cup

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International Captain Nick Price’s strategy seemed to pay off after the first session of the 2013 Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, OH. Price lobbied for the format to switch from Foursomes (Alternate Shot) in the first session to Fourballs (Better Ball). The latter format has been won by the Internationals in every Presidents Cup since 1996.

 Sending out Muirfield Village member Jason Day of Australia with Canadian Graham DeLaet earned the first point of the matches for the Internationals over Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker. Moreover it did exactly what Price hoped it would; it gave the International team momentum. In past Presidents Cups it has been an uphill struggle for the International team because they have fallen behind after the first session and were playing catch-up the rest of the matches.

A rain delay midway through the Thursday’s session also allowed the International team to collectively get off the ropes. When the weather horn blew they trailed in all six of the matches. Although the Americans did capture the first point of the matches when Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar routed Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman 5&3, it was the comeback by Day and DeLaet that showed that the Internationals would not be playing catch up at Muirfield Village.

The biggest win of the day came from the powerhouse South African duo of Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen. Facing the American powerhouse from last year’s Ryder Cup, Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, the South Africans won handily 2&1. Adam Scott and Presidents Cup rookie Hideki Matsuyama of Japan fought back against Bill Haas and Webb Simpson to earn a half. When that match ended the Internationals held a 2 ½ – 1 ½ lead.

Although the Americans were able to hang on in the last two matches on the course to end the day with a one point lead, 3 ½ – 2 ½ , Nick Price found that his team is up to the task presented by the heavily favored Americans. Here are the full results from Day 1:

Hunter Mahan/Brandt Snedeker

1 up

Jason Day/Graham DeLaet

Bill Hass/ Webb Simpson

Halved

Adam Scott/Hideki Matsuyama

Phil Mickelson/Keegan Bradley

2&1

Charl Schwartzel/Louis Oosthuizen

Steve Stricker/Jordan Speith

1 up

Ernie Els/ Brendon de Jonge

Tiger Woods/Matt Kuchar

5&4

Angel Cabrera/ Marc Leishman

Zach Johnson/Jason Dufner

5&3

Branden Grace/ Richard Sterne

Adding to the confidence for the Internationals is the play of four of the seven rookies on the squad. Through the second half of the PGA Tour season Graham DeLaet was, aside From Henrik Stenson, the hottest player in the world. DeLaet is a supreme ballstriker who seemingly hot every shot over the last hour of his match to 10 feet or less. Hideki Matsuyama is a 20-year-old with as much talent as his 20-year-old counterpart on the American side, Jordan Speith. Matsuyama matched the quality of his partner, Adam Scott and his opponents Haas and Simpson. Louis Oosthuizen showed that, despite his recent time off because of injury, his game and major championship talent were not rusty at all. Finally, the biggest surprise for the Internationals has to be Brendon de Jonge.

Price used one of his captain’s picks on de Jonge, both are from Zimbabwae and de Jonge considers Price a hero and mentor. Paired with veteran Ernie Els, it was de Jonge who kept his team in their match against Jordan Speith and Steve Stricker. At one point, de Jonge rattled off five birdies in six holes and eight total. Meanwhile Els did not make a birdie until the 17th hole to send the match to the 18th.  After finding the final green in regulation de Jonge had about 20 feet to halve the match but came up just to the right and halved the hole when Stricker got up and down from a greenside bunker to give the US a 1 up win and 3 ½ – 2 ½ lead after day 1.

It’s clear that both captains are comfortable with their pairings from fourballs to foursomes. Nick Price made no changes in his pairings, only the order he sent out his players for Day 2. American captain Fred Couples moved Hunter Mahan to partner with Bill Haas while Webb Simpson with play with Brandt Snedeker. Full pairings for the Friday Foursomes are here:

Phil Mickelson/Keegan Bradley

Jason Day/Graham DeLaet

Bill Hass/ Hunter Mahan

Ernie Els/ Brendon de Jonge

Steve Stricker/Jordan Speith

Branden Grace/ Richard Sterne

Webb Simpson/Brandt Snedeker

Angel Cabrera/Marc Leishman

Tiger Woods/Matt Kuchar

Charl Schwartzel/Louis Oosthuizen

Zach Johnson/Jason Dufner

Adam Scott/Hideki Matsuyama

 

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