Presidents Cup 2019: Tiger flying USA flag as Internationals lead

By Sports Desk December 11, 2019

Tiger Woods showcased his quality but the United States have work to do against the International team at the Presidents Cup in Melbourne.    

All eyes have been on USA captain Woods, who has basked in the limelight in the four-ball format on day one at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

Woods birdied his opening two holes and three of five to help put the USA 3up through 14 alongside Justin Thomas against Australian favourite Marc Leishman and Joaquin Niemann.

A 15-time major champion, Woods - who has managed five birdies so far - produced a moment for the highlight-reel when he sensationally chipped in for birdie on the fifth hole on Thursday.

However, the USA - seeking an eighth straight Presidents Cup crown - have not had it all their own way against Ernie Els' Internationals.

Of the five matches, the Internationals lead three against the USA in overcast conditions.

Louis Oosthuizen and Abraham Ancer are 3up over stars Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland through nine holes.

With a strong South African presence around the course, Oosthuizen's three birdies have helped set the pace in the fifth match.

Adam Scott/An Byeong-hun and Hideki Matsuyama/C.T. Pan are 2up for the Internationals, who have not won the Presidents Cup since it was held in Melbourne in 1998.

Former world number one Scott - buoyed by strong local support - and An have enjoyed success against Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau, never trailing the American duo.

The same goes with Matsuyama and Pan, who are also 2up against 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson.

Meanwhile, the Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay versus Adam Hadwin/Im Sung-jae match is tied after 12 holes.

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    McIlroy's birdie blitz saw the four-time major champion card a near-flawless six-under-par 66 in Orlando, Florida on Thursday.

    Winner of the PGA Tour event in 2018, McIlroy holed seven birdies – including five in a row on the back nine – to lift the Northern Irishman to the top of the leaderboard alongside Canada's Corey Conners.

    McIlroy's birdie run from the second to the sixth hole tied the second-longest streak of his career in a round on the PGA Tour, having also managed the feat twice in 2015 (Wells Fargo Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational).

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    Woods is currently recovering after undergoing surgery following a near-fatal single-vehicle crash last week.

    "Obviously a 66 is a great way to start the tournament," said McIlroy, who is without a win since 2019. "I feel like you don't have to do anything special to shoot a good score here. You can be really conservative off the tees if you want to be, so there are a bunch of irons that you can hit off tees.

    "I think the toughest thing about this course is the par-threes and I played them in three under today, so that was a bonus. But I've watched Tiger enough here over the years and the way he played this course was, he played it very conservatively, he took care of the par-fives, and that was usually good enough to get the job done. So I've taken a little bit of a leaf out of his book."

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    Former world number one Jordan Spieth – eyeing his first victory since 2017 – ended the first round in a tie for 15th and four shots behind the leading pair.

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    The overnight leader by two strokes, Morikawa recovered from a slow start after bogeying his second hole of the final round – the 24-year-old American birdieing three of five holes before the turn as he ended the day without dropping another shot.

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