CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The 2022 Presidents Cup began with an all-star matchup that had fans buzzing but got out of hand in a hurry.
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele rolled in their opener, 6 and 5, against International veterans Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama, putting the first point on the board for the Americans to set the tone and foreshadow what was to come: a leaderboard full of red.
The Americans were in charge for most of the day before a brief International resurgence on the back nine that saw the American advantage fall to, at most, 1 up through 12 holes in each of the final four matches. The Red, White and Blue held on in all but one of the final matches and will take a commanding 4-1 lead into Friday afternoon’s four-ball session.
Here’s a breakdown from each match on Day 1 of the 2022 Presidents Cup.
Cantlay-Schauffele (USA) def. Matsuyama-Scott (Intl.), 6 and 5
The hats were lifted early in the first match as Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele of Team USA pounded Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott, 6 and 5. It marked the second-earliest finish for an American win in Presidents Cup history.
The dynamic duo for the U.S. improved to a perfect 3-0 in foursomes at the Presidents Cup to put the first point on the board. Cantlay-Schauffele grabbed the lead with a par at the third. It took five holes for the American side to make a birdie but once the seal was broken the U.S poured it on with three birdies in a row to open a 4-up lead. The Internationals won its only hole of the day at the short par-4 eighth when Schauffele rimmed out his birdie putt to halve the hole.
The International team had a chance to cut into its deficit when Matsuyama stuck his tee shot to 6 feet at No. 10, but Scott missed the putt. That took the wind out of the sails of the International side as they bogeyed the final three holes.
“You always expect your opponent to come back strong. We got lucky there on 10. That could’ve been a big one that they missed, and we used that as momentum to finish off this match,” Cantlay said. — Schupak.
Spieth-Thomas (USA) def. Im-Conners (Intl.), 2 and 1
Like the first match, Americans Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas matched the efforts of their International counterparts, Sungjae Im and Corey Conners, on the first two holes before pulling away. Spieth-Thomas won three of the next four holes – two by just making par – to open a 3-up lead before dropping two of the next three holes to take just a 1-up lead around the turn.
The match tightened up on Nos. 10-14, as each team failed to take advantage of the other’s mistakes. Two of the five tied holes were with bogey, with the other three at par. In normal JT fashion, he clutched up in true Captain America form with a par putt to win the 15th and extend the lead with three holes to play. A pair of birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 sealed the deal for the 2-and-1 win for the U.S., putting the second point on the board. — Woodard
Young-Morikawa (USA) def. Kim-Lee (Intl.) 2 and 1
With Dustin Johnson gone to LIV Golf, Collin Morikawa needed a new partner. Enter Cameron Young, who can drive it every bit as well and as far as Johnson.
“We were joking around, I hit pretty much every iron shot and he hit driver and putter,” Morikawa said. “It’s a great combo, when he frickin’ pounds it down the middle of the fairway and I have 8-iron into par-5s.”
Their opponents – South Koreans Tom Kim and K.H. Lee – took the early lead with a par at the second hole, but it turned out to be the only lead the International team would enjoy all day. The Americans made the first of six birdies on the day one hole later to erase the deficit and won No. 6 with a birdie and No. 9 with a par to build a 2-up lead at the turn.
Kim and Lee rallied, winning the 11th thanks to a bogey by the Americans and the 12th with a birdie of its own. Lee clenched his fist as he drained the 11-foot putt to tie the match.
But Morikawa showed why he’s considered the best iron player in the game, sticking his approach from 144 yards to inside 3 feet. Young had the honor of closing out the match, ramming in a 26-foot birdie putt to clinch the 2-and-1 victory.
“Yeah, that was cool,” Young said. “I kind of did know it in the back of my mind. I definitely didn’t mean to hit that hard, but I’m glad it ended up where it did.”— Schupak.
Kim-Davis (Intl.) def. Scheffler-Burns (USA), 2 up
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Americans eased their way in to the match before they lost the lead and leaked oil down the stretch. U.S. rookies Scheffler and Burns birdied three of their first seven holes on the front nine and made the turn with a 2-up lead.
The Internationals kept it close before a clutch birdie on the par-5 12th (just their second of the day) to cut their deficit to one before Scheffler canned a 14-footer for birdie on the very next hole. The Americans left the door cracked with a double-bogey six on No. 15 and the Internationals stormed in like a S.W.A.T. team with consecutive birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 to flip the match. A poor drive from Burns on 18 found the trees and pine straw left of the fairway, and Scheffler’s approach hit the trees and kicked into the short grass, leaving the Internationals to make par and flip the match to win, 2 up. — Woodard
Finau-Homa (USA) def. Pendrith-Pereira (Intl.), 1 up
The final match of the day certainly didn’t disappoint as the score never got higher than 2 up for the Americans. Each team won three holes as the Internationals clawed back with birdies on the par-4 8th and 13th to tie the Americans with five to play. Thursday’s finale remained tied and was one of just two bouts to reach the 18th green.
Pereira’s drive found the left rough and from there Pendrith hit into the greenside bunker to the right of the dance floor. Homa found the fairway and from 183 yards out, Finau hit to 27 feet to set up the two-putt par for the win, 1 up. — Woodard
Team USA golfer Tony Finau (left) and golfer Max Homa (right) smile on the first tee during the foursomes match play of the Presidents Cup golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club. (Photo: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports)