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Americans Headed Towards Another Rout

U.S. team member Rickie Fowler (L) gestures to fans as he walks with team mate Jimmy Walker on the first hole during the opening foursome matches of the 2015 Presidents Cup golf tournament at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, October 8, 2015. REUTERS/Toru Hanai Picture Supplied by Action Images.

It was a rout, pure and simple.

All the stuff you heard or read about the Presidents Cup being an American cakewalk turned out, at least in Session One, to be right on the money.

Nine out of the past 10 winners of this biennial contest won the first session, a relaxed 18 holes of five foursome matches that generated less excitement and electricity than John Boehner’s farewell speech.

As most golf fans woke up on Thursday morning, the Americans were well on their way to making it 10 out of 11 after opening with a 4-1 shellacking of the Internationals.

With the exception of Louis Oosthuizen and Brandon Grace, who beat Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed, 3 and 2, the Internationals did not lead a single hole.

Long hitters Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes, who went out first, with Bubba ripping the opening tee shot, made short work of Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama, 3 and 2, in a match that didn’t look that close. The Americans were 2 up through four and put it on cruise control from there.

That match finished just about the time Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker were disposing of Presidents Cup rookie Anirban Lahiri and European Tour veteran Thongchai Jaidee, 5 and 4.

The only match that made it to 18 was Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson against Jason Day and Steven Bowditch. One up on the 17th hole, Mickelson lipped out a birdie putt that would have ended it. But the Americans eagled the par-5 18th, giving them a 2-up victory.

The only bright spot for the Internationals was match No. 2, where Oostuizen and Grace won holes 9, 11 and 12 to take a 3-up lead that they were able to maintain throughout. Reed never found his rhythm and Kuchar, who hits tremendous iron shots but is a streaky putter at best, didn’t make much.

Reed might have been playing with hurt feelings. Jordan Spieth, who partnered with Reed in the Ryder Cup to provide Capt. Tom Watson with one of the only bright spots at Gleneagles, let it be known that he hoped to play with Dustin Johnson in these matches, a direct slap at Reed.

Spieth was right, though. He and Johnson went out in the final match against Danny Lee and Marc Leishman and took an immediate 2-up lead, winning Nos. 1 and 2 with a par and a birdie. The Internationals eagled the par-5 ninth hole, to cut into the lead but gave it right back, losing 10, 11 and 13. A concession on 15 ended that one, 5 and 4, and sucked all the air out of Incheon.

In the old days of the Ryder Cup, when the Americans would show up, beat the GB&I team handily, shake hands, buy drinks and fly home, it was hard to build any enthusiasm for the event. As difficult as it is to believe, the matches weren’t even televised live in the U.S.

Now, the Internationals suffer from the same dilemma those GB&I teams did in the old days. The Americans are, quite simply, better. And until that changes, the Presidents Cup will continue to be about as compelling as C-SPAN.

Second Session Pairings: 

Match 1: Dustin Johnson/Jordan Spieth vs. Louis Oosthuizen/Branden Grace

Match 2: Rickie Fowler/Jimmy Walker vs. Danny Lee/Sangmoon Bae

Match 3: Zach Johnson/Phil Mickelson vs. Adam Scott/Jason Day

Match 4: J.B. Holmes/Bubba Watson vs. Marc Leishman/Steven Bowditch

Match 5: Bill Haas/Chris Kirk vs. Charl Schwartzel/Thongchai Jaidee


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