Presidents Cup: Justin Thomas-Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed-Jordan Spieth lift U.S.

By The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 28, 2017 at 11:03 PM
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The pairings of Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler, and Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth set the table with dominating victories Thursday as Team USA rolled to a 3 1/2-1 1/2 lead in foursomes (alternate shot) on Day 1 of competition at the 12th Presidents Cup in Jersey City, NJ,

Thomas and Fowler lost the second hole to Charl Schwartzel of South Africa and Hideki Matsuyama of Japan but birdied the next two and built a 4-up lead at the turn. Schwartzel and Matsuyama birdied the 10th to give the International team some hope, but it was fleeting as the Americans won the 11th with a par and the 12th with a birdie to close out the match 6 and 4 with a par on the 14th.

Spieth and Reed never trailed in their match against Emiliano Grillo of Argentina and Si Woo Kim of South Korea. Spieth and Reed won the second hole to go 1-up before losing the third. But the Americans won Nos. 4, 5, 6 and 7 despite carding just one birdie in that stretch to move 4-up.

Kim and Grillo won the eighth and captured the 10th thanks to a bogey by the Americans to move within two at Liberty National Golf Club.

Spieth then made the biggest putt of the match, rolling in a downhill 35-footer that Grillo couldn't match from just about half the distance. Spieth and Reed then won No. 12 with a birdie to move 4-up, and the pair won the 14th to close out the match 5 and 4.

Team USA's win by Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson over Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela and Adam Scott of Australia was much closer, going the full 18 holes in a 1-up victory. A birdie on the par-3 16th by Kuchar and Johnson gave them a lead that the pair carried home with pars on the final two holes.

The South African duo of Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen gave the International team its lone win of the first session, beating Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka 3 and 1.

Grace and Oosthuizen led 1-up at the turn after Koepka hit his tee shot in the water at No. 9 and Berger hit the approach in the water as well, but gave back their advantage with a concession at the 10th before fashioning a birdie on the 13th and winning the 15th with a par. Grace and Oosthuizen close out Koepka and Berger with a conceded win at 17.

The final match between the American duo of Phil Mickelson and Kevin Kisner and Australia's Marc Leishman and Jason Day went the distance. A par on the 17th squared the match that was eventually halved with pars from both teams on the 18th hole.

Friday will have five four-ball (best ball) matches. Saturday's schedule will offer four foursomes matches in the morning and four four-ball matches in the afternoon. Sunday's final day will consist of 12 singles matches, with every player from both teams on the course.

There are no playoffs, with each side receiving a half point if a match is tied after 18 holes.

NOTES: Kevin Chappell and Charley Hoffman did not play on Day 1 for the American Team while Adam Hadwin of Canada and Anirban Lahiri of India sat out for the Internationals. ... The International Team is made up of players not from Europe. ... Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed are now 6-1-2 as a pair in the Ryder and Presidents Cups. ... Of the 11 competitions played since the Presidents Cup began in 1994, the U.S. team has won nine times, the International Team has won once and one match was a tie, ending famously in the dusk at Fancourt in South Africa as Tiger Woods and Ernie Els of South Africa could not finish after three halved playoff holes.

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