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Devil Ball Golf

The Americans lead the Presidents Cup after day one, but momentum might be with the Internationals

Shane Bacon
Devil Ball Golf

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Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar — Getty Images

Before the horn sounded on Thursday for a weather delay at the Presidents Cup, it seemed that this week would be as most expected it to be. The Americans were leading in every single match, they had their lucky squirrel, and it seemed there was nothing that could stop them during the four-ball matches at Muirfield Village.

But after the weather stoppage, things turned around for Nick Price and the Internationals. Jason Day and Graham DeLaet started playing some good golf, erasing a 3-down deficit to Brandt Snedeker and Hunter Mahan, coming down to the final hole when Day holed the putt of the day for birdie and the full point for the Internationals.

While Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar were throttling Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman to earn a full point for the Americans, it was the other dynamic duo for Fred Couples that struggled on Thursday.

Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, a team that didn't drop a match at the Ryder Cup in 2012, never really found a groove, getting as much as 2-up to Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen but failing to convert the must-makes that put these types of matches away in team competition.

Mickelson and Bradley let the South Africans hang around long enough for them to start making some putts, and a birdie by Schwartzel on the 17th landed Price and company another full point and a huge upset for the Internationals.

The shot of the day, however, came from a very unlikely participant in Hideki Matsuyama. The 21-year-old from Japan came in with not nearly the fanfare that 20-year-old Jordan Spieth received, but Matsuyama has played some great golf this season and after a slow start got it going with partner Adam Scott.

Down to Bill Haas and Webb Simpson two with four holes to go, Scott holed a chip shot for eagle to get it to 1-down and then Matsuyama knocked the flagstick down on the par-3 16th to get the match to all square, and despite dropping another hole to the Americans on the 17th, hit his second shot on the 18th to within inches of the cup for a conceded birdie and an important halve for the Internationals.

Every year in these team tournaments we have unlikely heroes, and while Brendon de Jonge wasn't able to win his match with Ernie Els, the captain's pick made eight birdies on Thursday and looked anything like a rookie on Thursday at Muirfield Village.

All in all it was an important day for Price and his team, who really looked like they might be down 6-0 at one point but were able to fight back to trail by only one full point with three days remaining.

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