Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The International team is off to its best start in Presidents Cup history after claiming a 4-1 edge over the United States in the opening session Thursday in Melbourne.
"It was heroic," International team captain Ernie Els told the Golf Channel. "They played unbelievable, playing against such a deep American side. On paper, they weren't given much as a chance. Me as captain, to see the guys perform like that was just incredible."
Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas began the day by beating International duo Marc Leishman and Joaquin Niemann 4-and-3, but that was the only win for the Americans on the first day of the tournament at Australia's Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
Woods birdied three of the first five holes. The win was his first in five four-ball matches at Royal Melbourne. He totaled six birdies in the round, including the final two holes.
"Tiger was working so well between the two of us today," Thomas said of Woods. "We played great. I mean, I just didn't really take advantage of the opportunities, but that's what you have a partner for. It was awesome. It's nice knowing when I step up on a par 3 or a par 4 that I feel free just because I know he's playing well, and he did."
Sungjae Im and Adam Hadwin followed by beating Americans Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele 1-up in the second match. International duo Byeong Hun An and Adam Scott beat Tony Finau and Bryson DeChambeau 2-and-1 in the third match of the opening round.
Sungjae, 21, is the youngest player in Presidents Cup history to win his first match.
Hideki Matsuyama and C.T. Pan beat Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson 1-up in the fourth match. Abraham Ancer and Louis Oosthuizen ended the round by beating Americans Gary Woodland and Dustin Johnson 4-and-3 in the final round.
The International team now needs 11.5 points to win the tournament. The first team to 15.5 points claims the title of Presidents Cup champion for 2019.
The second round of the Presidents Cup begins Friday in Melbourne, but American viewers can tune in at 7 p.m. EST Thursday due to the time difference. The Presidents Cup airs on the Golf Channel.
Day two foursome matches start with Johnson and Matt Kuchar against Oosthuizen and Scott at 7:02 p.m. EST Thursday. Schauffele and Cantlay battle Hadwin and Niemann in the second match. Simpson and Reed face Leishman and Ancer in the third match. Thomas and Woods have a 7:28 p.m. EST tee time against Byeong Hun An and Matsuyama in the fourth match. Woodland and Rickie Fowler face Sungjae and Cameron Smith in the final foursome match of the second round, teeing off at 7:54 p.m. EST.
"This is a long four days," Woods said. "We have to go earn this cup and just because we lost this session doesn't mean the cup is over. There is a long way to go."
The International team has led the Presidents Cup four times after the first round, but has only one win in the history of the tournament.