CHARLOTTE, NC – The indispensable knockout of the cup slipped, and the American public unleashed the same cheer that has been ringing in the ears of Trevor Immelman, Adam Scott, and every international fan for the past two decades of the Presidents Cup.
“USA! USA! USA!”
They might also have been chanting a different tune: “Here we go again.”
With another dominant performance in the quartet, the Americans excelled 4-1 at Quail Hollow already making it feel as if history is repeating itself.
It is the seventh time in the past eight cups that the Americans have won the inaugural session. The only one who didn’t do it three years ago, at Royal Melbourne, when the Internationals advanced at home but were passed on the final day by a Tiger Woods-inspired rally. The problem is that Cameron Smith, Louis Oosthuizen, Abraham Anser and Joaquin Neiman don’t step in to help them this time around.
The Americans benefited from a format that has historically confounded their opponents, trailing all but three loopholes – in all – where they took the lead early on.
Of the 23 four-way sessions in Presidents Cup history, the United States has won 18 of them.
“There is a real advantage to trying to get the red on the board as soon as possible,” said Patrick Cantlay. “I think it makes everyone a little more comfortable and inspires them to do the same.”
US captain Davis Love sent III Cantlay and Xander Shaveli at the start, in an attempt to match the strength of the more experienced partnership between internationals Scott and Hideki Matsuyama. Immediately behind them were Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas – another proven and reliable pair of Americans.
Cantlay texted the other three players on the eve of the opening session: “Let’s try to set the tone.”
In the first game, the American duo clinched four consecutive wins in the top nine and improved to 5-0 in the form of the replacement shot. Their 6 and 5 win was the lopsided quadruple score in this event since 2011. With the tune set, Spieth and Thomas led from the third hole on their way to wins 2 and 1.
Just as Cantlie ordered, there were two early dots on the board.
“We know each other’s games. We know how to feed each other. We know how to help each other. We know how to stay out of the way,” Thomas said of Spieth, who remained undefeated (6-0) in four-way play at the event. each other.” “We did what we needed to do – and that gives our team a point.”
At some point on Thursday, the Americans took the lead in every game in the ninth minute, seemingly ready to sweep the session and raise fears of another defeat.
“She looked red all day, but someone came up on the radio and said, ‘Yeah, but we’re up top in three games, and those matches can turn really fast,’” Loew said. “
In fact, the day became more tense after a severe cold front passed in the late afternoon.
Long-hitting rookie Cameron Young in 25 feet rocked a birdie on the 17th green to secure another point for the Americans, winning 2 and 1 with sharpshooter Colin Morikawa. Also joining the board was another first-time player, Max Homma, who capitalized on Tony Finau’s massive engines and took one win when he missed Taylor Pendrith who must make a right 10ft.
“I am proud of all of them, but especially these two men,” Love said of Young and Homa. “Getting a point today was great.”
The Americans’ only disappointment was the finish by Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns, best friends who met for seven rounds last season and are now paired together for the first time in a tag team competition. Three through seven holes, they only won by one hole the rest of the day, falling to the international team of Si Woo Kim and Cam Davis when Davis crashed a close on 17, then Burns hit him hard from the tee into the home hole. That allowed the Foreigners to save at least one point in the opening session, but their task has become more difficult this year: They’re on the road, with eight starters, against one of the strongest American teams ever assembled.
“We will keep fighting,” said Immelmann. “It’s the kind of mentality this team has. We will regroup.”
They’re even better, because the American fans ringing the 18th green were already warning them of what would happen as they made their way toward their team’s room.
“It’s going to be a very long weekend!” Someone shouted. “The long weekend!”
Maybe not. With more sessions like this, it can be over quickly.