What looked like an early blow-out of Team International at the 2013 President’s Cup ended up as a one-point victory on Thursday evening at Muirfield Village. Captain Nick Price’s team looked like deer in the headlights, going down as many as three points in some of the matches before turning the corner with a comeback that almost had the day ending in a tie. Day One ended with Team USA 3.5 and Team International 2.5.
The surprise match of the day was Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley losing to South Africans, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. Phil was dropping putts early, but after the 90 minute rain delay, he and Keegan never made another birdie. Oosthuizen and Schwartzel made four unanswered birdies down the stretch, and handed the Ryder Cup stars their first defeat in team play.
Louis Oosthuizen has been out since the Open Championship with physical problems, but looked to have his game back on-track after playing in the Alfred Dunhill Championships last week. He appeared to have some rust on his game early, but was able to pick up the birdie at the par three eighth hole that seemed to turn the match around.
Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker were steam-rolling Graham DeLaet and Jason Day prior to the rain delay as well, but couldn’t get a putt to fall late in the session. They got to the sixth hole up 4 & 1, but like Mickelson/Bradley, were only able to manage one more birdie at the 17th hole.
Jason Day, playing along with the rookie DeLaet was able to get two points at the seventh and eighth holes to get the match within one before the turn. DeLaet added a birdie at the 16th hole, and Day birdied the 18th for the one-point win.
Adam Scott and Rookie, Hideki Matsuyama hung in all day, and got their match with Bill Haas and Webb Simpson tied before it was over. The veteran, Scott kept his team in the match until the rookie was able to make some birdies late to get the match tied.
Team USA Captain, Fred Couples has decided to split up the Haas/Simpson team, and Mahan/Snedeker teams for the Friday Foursomes, and lead off with Phil and Keegan in the first team out. Bill Haas will play with Hunter Mahan, and Brandt Snedeker will team with Webb Simpson.
Nick Price didn’t make any changes for Friday, and will send Jason Day out with Graham DeLaet in the first match with Mickelson and Bradley. Because he has seven rookies, Price was forced to pair two rookies in a group. South Africans, Brandon Grace, and Richard Sterne played together against Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner. Team USA won that match handily at 5 & 3.
The Friday Foursomes is a format that favors the Americans, so we should see a lopsided score by the end of play. Unlike Fourballs, the Foursomes play alternate-shot. This will give us an opportunity to see how well the Pros can play each others mistakes. We will get a chance to see if the Matt Kuchar/Tiger Woods friendship will last.
Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar held off Angel Cabrera and Marc Lieshman 5 & 4 on Thursday. Rookie Marc Leishman made the only birdie for Team International in a match that was never in doubt for the US Team.
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