CHARLOTTE — The opening round of the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Club was all team United States early on Thursday.
Four of the five United States pairings wasted no time in jumping right on the international team, with all but one match being led by the Americans by the fourth hole.
The energy on the first tee box was palpable with chants of “U-S-A” erupting with each grouping of American competitors entering the constructed stadium which surrounds the first tee box.
While smiles were common during practice rounds and media days, it was all business from both Americans and Internationals while exiting the stadium tunnel and hitting their first tee balls.
Lead off American pairing Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele made short work of their match, taking down Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama with two runs of back-to-back-to-back birdies to win their match 6 and 5.
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas jumped off to a quick lead after winning three out of their first six holes to gain a 3-stroke lead before International duo Sungjae Im and Corey Conners pulled back winning two holes to come within one hole of the Americans before the American Duo would pull back away to win their match despite making a mess of the on the 17th hole 2 and 1.
Match 3 for the day, featuring Americans Cameron Young and Collin Morikawa verus Internationals Tom Kim and K.H. Lee, had a hard-fought battle throughout the round. Both teams had strong stretches and several lead changes. Morikawa broke the Internationals hot streak on the short 13th hole, hitting a dart to a couple feet which would lead to the Americans taking the lead and a birdie on the 17th hole to finish their match winning 2 and 1.
Americans Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns started strong in their match against Internationals Si Woo Kim and Cam Davis. After nine holes, the duo held a 2-up lead and continued their strong play including a nice midrange birdie putt by Scheffler on the 13th hole to maintain the lead — before the wheels fell off and Kim and Davis would roar back with wins on the 15th,16th, 17th and 18th holes to take the only full point for the Internationals with a 2-up win.
Match 5 — the final match of the day with Americans Tony Finau and Max Homa against Internationals Taylor Pendrith and Mito Pereira — would come down to the 18th hole.
The match was tied following 14 holes after exiting the “green mile” — which is considered to be one of the toughest three hole stretches in golf — and remained deadlocked until an error off the 18th tee by Pereira put the Internationals in a tough spot, leaving the door open for the Americans to win the whole and the match 1 up.
The United States team won four of five matches and will carry that lead into day two of the competition. Pairings for Friday’s four-ball matches will be announced Thursday night and tee times released following that announcement.