CHARLOTTE, NC – The idea was for two of America’s most reliable teams to set the tone Thursday in the Presidents Cup, and the outcome was predictable.
Xander Shaveli And the Patrick Cantlay short work of Adam Scott And the Hideki Matsuyama in the opening match. They made no bogus in the 6 and 5 victory, improving their record to 5-0 in the quartet in the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup.
Another strong top-down American team played at a high level on a hot day at Quail Hollow and came out with a 4-1 lead after the first session.
“I told the guys last night that we needed to set the tone – a match between us and JT and Jordan – and we did,” Shaveli said. “Running that shape on a day like today and not doing any ghosting, that’s exactly what we need.”
All that prevented the international side from closing was Se Woo Kim And the Cameron Davis. They were 2 down with four holes to play against the Master Champion Scotty Scheffler And the Sam Burns When they seized on American mistakes and scored a 2-up victory.
Two of the eight junior internationals, Taylor Pendrith And the Mito PereiraYou could have picked up another point. They were all two squares going into a powerful level 4 lock hole when Pereira’s shot hit the wild tee, and Pendrith could only turn the right bunker and make a ghost. Tony Vino And the Max Homa He came out with a 1-up win and a point.
“We did what we were supposed to do,” Fino said.
The other American point came from Colin Morikawa And the Cameron Youngrookie on the PGA Tour of the year, who absorbed the environment in front of a full house in Quail Hollow and produced a winning moment of his own.
They were in a tough match with 20 years Tom Kim And the KH LeeEach square with six holes to play. At the time, the last three matches could have gone either way. And as much as Cantlay and Schaeffel made it look easy in the opening game, it was only one point.
The Americans regained the lead when Morikawa put a two-footed wedge of a bird into the 14th hole downwind. The lead stayed at 1 and looked to be heading toward 18 when he slammed Young in a 25-foot flying kick on the 17th to end the match.
“At that moment there is all I can ask for,” Young said. “Obviously it’s day one, but every point we get counts. And that’s a feeling I’ve been waiting for a long time.”
Cantlay and Shaveli first joined on a long trip to Australia for the Presidents Cup in 2019, the first team matches for both of them. They became fast friends off the track and became a tough team to beat inside the ropes.
They had a lot of help from Scott and Matsuyama – the two most experienced players on the international team – who missed a lot of shots that could have won or halved holes along the way. Matsuyama missed from 4 feet on the third hole, and the Americans took the lead and ran into it.
They win 3 straight holes through 5 par-5s to build a 4-up lead, and they win the last 3 holes with pars.
Thomas, who won the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow in 2017, had a fun day. He split a 9-iron so badly in fourth in the third that he came 40 yards out of the green. He hit a leg from the bunker on Bar-5-16. He and Spieth didn’t miss either hole.
The match started on the 15th–usually the 18th in Quail Hollow for the two-stroke championships–when Spieth’s drive landed on the left side of a stream, Thomas did well to get to the back of the green, and Spieth ran down the slope. Place about 25 feet from the hole.
Connors and Em were in a position to win the holeshot, 7 feet for the bonus, and square the match. Thomas hiding in a penalty kick, Conners missed and the Americans were second and headed for another point.
“You win when you pick up your partner, and he did,” Speth said. “That key we had on the 15th was unreal there. Looking to go to a tie and instead leave that green 2 up. It was the difference in the match.”
Next was Friday’s five-game four-ball, and each point brings the Americans closer to a ninth straight win in these one-sided games. They have never lost on home soil since the inception of the President’s Cup in 1994.
With such a dominant start, the Americans need only 11 points from 25 games remaining to retain the cup.