Americans should stretch lead in Friday fourballs
Internationals need Grace to be amazing
Story so far
The United States hardened from 3-10 to 1-6 for the Presidents Cup after winning the opening set of foursomes matches 3.5-1.5 at Liberty National, New Jersey.
The home side went 3-0 up, the superstar pairings of Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler, and Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth, winning by emphatic margins, then the Internationals scraped some respectability into the scoreline in the final two foursomes.
Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen bolstered their superb Presidents Cup record together by beating Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka. It looked like Marc Leishman and Jason Day were going to make the score 3-2, but Phil Mickelson and Kevin Kisner levelled the match on the 17th green before claiming a half.
United States captain Steve Stricker has benched Matt Kuchar and Daniel Berger for the day-two fourballs, allowing debutants Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell to come in. Internationals chief Nick Price has dropped Emiliano Grillo and Si Woo Kim, with Adam Hadwin and Anirban Lahiri the replacements.
First-day foursomes results
Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler beat Charl Schwartzel and Hideki Matsuyama 6&4
Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson beat Jhonattan Vegas and Adam Scott one up
Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth beat Emiliano Grillo and Si Woo Kim 5&4
Daniel Berger and Brooks Koepka lost to Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen 3&1
Phil Mickelson and Kevin Kisner halved with Marc Leishman and Jason Day
Day-two fourballs line-up
4.35pm Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth versus Adam Hadwin and Hideki Matsuyama
4.50pm Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler versus Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen
5.05pm Kevin Kisner and Phil Mickelson versus Marc Leishman and Jason Day
5.20pm Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell versus Anirban Lahiri and Charl Schwartzel
5.35pm Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson versus Jhonattan Vegas and Adam Scott
The writing is on the wall for the Internationals and their captain Nick Price had a horrible job last night trying to rally his troops.
The Internationals are used to losing the Presidents Cup every two years, and there is probably not one member of their side who genuinely believes they will stop the rot at Liberty National this week. The Americans have quickly got their tails up and should coast to a comfortable outright success over the next three days.
The best the Internationals can hope for from the day-two fourballs is arguably a 3-2 defeat, which would make the outright score 6.5-3.5 going into the weekend. Price will be fully aware, though, that a 5-0 fourballs scoreline is entirely possible, too.
Matches one, four and five look likely to go the way of the Yanks. Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth eased to victory over weak opposition yesterday and the dream team have plenty more gears to go through. Adam Hadwin faces a baptism of fire on his Cup debut, while Hideki Matsuyama is still unable to rediscover his Firestone form.
Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell are both representing their country for the first time, but these good friends should gel extremely well. Charl Schwartzel looked in poor nick yesterday, while Anirban Lahiri is likely to be a bag of nerves having cost his side so dearly in the 2015 edition.
Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson is a frightening fourballs combination. Jhonattan Vegas and Adam Scott seem likely to be crushed in the final match.
Matches two and three provide the best opportunity for the Internationals to register points. Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen could easily upset Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler, while Marc Leishman and Jason Day should have another ding-dong meeting with Kevin Kisner and Phil Mickelson.
Maybe another win for Grace and Oosthuizen, and another half for Day and Leishman, could be coming.
P Reed & J Spieth (4-7), C Hoffman & K Chappell (23-20), B Koepka & D Johnson (4-6)
3pts treble bet365
USA to win fourballs 3.5-1.5
1pt 11-2 Betfair, Power