PGA Tour

Internationals in Presidents Cup fightback mode

2017-09-29 17:31
Nick Price (Getty Images)

Jersey City - The Presidents Cup had a familiar feel on Friday, with Nick Price's International team on the back foot in their bid to end two decades of US dominance in the biennial match-play contest.

The powerful US squad, captained by Steve Stricker, emerged from Thursday's opening foursomes matches with a two-point lead - winning three of five matches and halving another.

"We've been off to poor starts for a while on Thursdays," acknowledged Zimbabwe's Price, who is leading the Internationals for a third straight time.

Beating the Americans was always going to be a tough proposition.

Led by top-ranked Dustin Johnson and world No 2 Jordan Spieth, the United States have an average world ranking of 15 and have combined for 17 PGA Tour titles this year - including the three most recent major championships.

The Internationals, drawn from eight nations on five continents, have an average rank of 32, with eight tournament titles among them this year.

But after a narrow one-point defeat in the 2015 edition in South Korea, there was optimism that the Internationals could pull off the upset, and add a second title to the one they captured in 1998. The US have won nine of the 11 prior editions, with one ending in a draw.

"It's still possible," Price insisted.

"We have a resilient team," the former world No 1 said. "They have this ability to come back and bounce back. We've got to go out and play really good golf."

Price undoubtedly needs more from his top-ranked player, world No 3 Hideki Matsuyama.

Matsuyama and South African Charl Schwartzel were thumped 6 & 4 by Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas on Thursday.

On Friday, Matsuyama was in the first fourball match out alongside Canadian Adam Hadwin, a Presidents Cup newcomer. They face another tough US duo in Spieth and Patrick Reed.

"I think he still may be reeling a little bit from the PGA," Stricker said of Matsuyama, who enjoyed an outstanding season that included two victories in elite World Golf Championships events but fizzled out in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs.

"He's had such a huge year," Price said, "I think he's probably a little tired. But he played so well in the practice rounds."

Price was hoping that in less windy conditions on Friday, Matsuyama would find his groove.

Jason Day, who teamed up with fellow Aussie Marc Leishman to halve with Phil Mickelson and Kevin Kisner on Thursday, said on Friday it was time for the Internationals to "regroup".

"The American side is obviously very, very talented and stacked, but I think our team and our boys are ready to rally behind everyone and hopefully we can finish strong later on in the week," Day said.

Pairings for Friday's five fourball matches at the at the 12th Presidents Cup match play tournament between the United States and the International team (USA lead 3.5-1.5 after opening day):

Fourball (All times in SA)

17:35

Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed (USA) v Hideki Matsuyama/Adam Hadwin (JPN/CAN)

17:50

Rickie Fowler/Justin Thomas (USA) v Louis Oosthuizen/Branden Grace (RSA)

18:05

Phil Mickelson/Kevin Kisner (USA) v Jason Day/Marc Leishman (AUS)

18:20

Kevin Chappell/Charley Hoffman (USA) v Charl Schwartzel/Anirban Lahiri (RSA/IND)

18:35

Dustin Johnson/Brooks Koepka (USA) v Adam Scott/Jhonattan Vegas (AUS/VEN)

Read more on:    presidents cup  |  nick price  |  golf
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