Cantlay, Schauffele and the United States enjoy red-hot Presidents Cup start

By Sports Desk September 22, 2022

The United States got off to a blistering start at the Presidents Cup to open lead 4-1 lead over the International Team on Thursday.

Setting the tone for the United States in the foursomes was the pairing of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele – who are the reigning champions at the only other team event on the PGA Tour calendar, winning at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans this past season.

Matched up against Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, the Americans were a well-oiled machine, going 4up through the first seven holes, including a string of three consecutive birdies.

While they were the authors of their own early success, the International duo fell apart on the back nine, with three consecutive bogeys handing the United States three more holes, ending the contest at 6 and 5.

The rest of the matches were far more competitive, with Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas edging the duo of Corey Conners and Sung-jae Im 2 and 1.

Once again, the Americans got off to a flyer to be 3up through six holes, before the Internationals took two of the next three to tighten things up down the stretch.

The 15th hole decided the contest, after it appeared a poor drive and a mediocre chip that rolled to the fringe of the green would cost the United States, but some poor putting from the Internationals opened the door, with Thomas sinking a difficult one to swing the hole in their favour.

Tom Kim and Lee Kyoung-hoon were the only International team to draw first blood, going 1up on the second hole, but they would finish the front nine trailing by two as Cameron Young and Collin Morikawa responded swiftly.

Back-to-back hole wins on the 11th and 12th for the Internationals tied things up, but again the United States were quick to snatch back the ascendancy on the very next hole, closing things out with a birdie on the 17th for a 2 and 1 triumph.

Max Homa and Tony Finau had to wait until the very last hole to secure their win against Taylor Pendrith and Mito Pereira after the Internationals levelled the contest with five to play.

After four consecutive shared holes, Pendrith's approach on the last found the bunker, and they were not able to salvage a par as the Americans kept it clean with a comfortable two-putt for the 1up win.

The Internationals' only win came from the duo of South Korea's Kim Si-woo and Australia's Cam Davis against world number one Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns, emerging as 2up victors.

It was a great fightback after the United States led most of the round – 3up after seven holes, and 2up through 14 – as the Internationals won the final four holes to snatch a point.

Friday will see the teams go head-to-head in the four-ball format.

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    Ryder had held a three-stroke advantage at the halfway point and maintained his lead despite an even round that included one birdie, where he made a great save after hitting the cart path, and one bogey as the event switched to the South Course for the final two days.

    World number three Rahm seemed to relish the conditions in an ominous sign ahead of the final round, with the second-best round of the day underlining his surge, that included a run of three straight birdies before an eagle on the ninth.

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    "I struggled out there most of yesterday," McIlroy said. "I thought did I well to be under par by the end of the day. I fought back after some very sloppy rusty golf over the first 14 holes.

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    Reed matched that score thanks to a 15-foot eagle at the last.

    Asked for his thoughts about how he played in round one, McIlroy said: "Honestly, not very good. I struggled out there most of yesterday. I thought I did well to be under par by the end of the day. I fought back after some very sloppy rusty golf over the first sort of 14 holes.

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    "Again, anything inside of 20 feet, I would have been happy with, so that was certainly a bonus."

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