Good news for David Love III, bad news for Trevor Immelman.
Thursday at the 2022 edition of the Presidents Cup went pretty much according to the United States game plan and the result was four wins out of the five matches for the good old US of A.
Perfect weather greeted the teams as the underdog Internationals sent out their most high-profile, experienced team — Masters champions Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama — in the opening match against the formidable pairing of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.
“It was a risky move to put your two stars out early,” said Paul Azinger, who knows a little bit about how to put winning teams together. Things did not go well for Hideki-san and putter-challenged Scott. By the sixth hole they were 3-down to the U.S. whiz kids and the handwriting was on the wall.
Cantlay and Schauffele, winners of the PGA Tour’s team event in New Orleans this past season, brought their “A” games. All they did was play five-under par through 13 holes, no bogeys, perfect alternate shot play and Matsuyama and Scott found themselves shaking hands with the Americans as they walked off that 13th green.
That set the tone for a very rough day for Immelman and his under-dog Internationals.
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas did their thing. There something about these two. They have that look, that confidence and can extract themselves from difficult situations and that was most evident on the 15th hole. The 15th at Quail this week is normally the difficult 18th, with that nasty creek running all the way up the left side of the very long hole. Spieth hit one of his wayward drives and it was totally headed for the creek when it took a lucky bounce and ended up right of the water. Still, J.T. was left with a long iron shot from a difficult lie and an even more difficult sidehill stance. He managed to hit a screamer that went long and over the green. From there, Jordy hit a not-so-great third that finally stopped on the front fringe, 27 feet from the cup. The Internationals were sitting pretty with Conners looking at a six-footer for par.
Spieth and Jordan were only 1-up at that moment and it looks for all intents and purposes like the match would be all square with three to play. It was then that J.T. ran in that long par putt, bringing roars from the huge crowd. Obviously shaken, Conners missed his par putt and the Spieth-J.T. team pulled the old Mongolian Reversal and took a 2-up lead to 16 and went on to win 2-and-1.
The one match that didn’t go according to plan was world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and No. 12 Sam Burns against Si Woo Kim and Cam Davis. If there was a David vs. Goliath match on the course, this one was it.
Scheffler and Burns were 3-up after seven but on the back nine, they fell apart like a pair of 12-handicappers, losing the last four holes to suffer the only U.S. loss of the day — 2-down to Si Woo and Cam.
Day one final tally: USA 4, Internationals 1
Yes, Immelman and his guys are in a big hole. “We got off to a poor start,” understated the International captain. “We need to adjust that tomorrow.”
As for Captain Love, well, he said: “We’re obviously very pleased with the start.”
Thank-you Captain Obvious.
For Friday’s Four-Ball (Best Ball) Matches, here’s the lineup:
Adam Scott / Cam Davis vs. Jordan Spieth / Justin Thomas (11: 35 a.m. EDT)
Sungjae Im / Sebastián Muñoz vs. Scottie Scheffler / Sam Burns (11:50 a.m. EDT)
Mito Pereira / Christiaan Bezuidenhout vs. Kevin Kisner / Cameron Young (12:05 p.m. EDT)
Hideki Matsuyama / Tom Kim vs. Patrick Cantlay / Xander Schauffele (12:20 p.m. EDT)
Corey Conners / Taylor Pendrith vs. Billy Horschel / Max Homa (12:35 p.m. EDT)