Planet Golf — 23 September 2022 by GW staff and news services
U.S. holds off Sunday surge for victory

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – His ball, club, hat, heart, and the inhibitions of the International Team.

Tom Kim, whose entertainment value exceeded his 2-3-0 record for the week, ran out of things to leave on the greens as he whooped and hollered and early-walked all those made putts, all of it must-see TV. Maybe he was secretly watching his own highlights when he strode smiling onto Quail Hollow’s first tee in those goofy glasses Sunday.

The U.S. won the 2022 Presidents Cup 17.5 – 12.5. Xander Schauffele (3-1-0) scored the clinching point with his 1-up Singles win over Corey Conners, and in a way, he called it.

“I’ll just save mine for tomorrow,” Schauffele said when asked for his highlight Saturday.

Si Woo Kim shushed the crowd, birdied 18 and beat Justin Thomas 1 up. Sebastian Muñoz took out Scottie Scheffler 2 and 1. If we watch to be surprised, who saw those results coming?

“Probably one of the best things I ever achieved in my life,” Muñoz said.

We saw greatness at this Presidents Cup: Jordan Spieth’s five birdies to beat Cam Davis 4 and 3 as he went 5-0-0 for the week. We saw players grow up: Davis’ eagle, birdie, birdie finish with partner and boyhood idol Adam Scott on Saturday. And stars were born: Tom Kim.

Kim’s U.S. equivalent was his Singles opponent Sunday, Max Homa, who won 1 up to run his record to 4-0-0. Homa was the best rookie, the best captain’s pick, and the best quote.

“There’s so many people, you can feel them on the back of your neck,” he said after making birdie on 18 to power himself and Billy Horschel to victory over Corey Conners/Taylor Pendrith in Four-ball on Friday. “… It’s been amazing to watch these 11 other guys who are incredibly good, incredibly acclaimed, so many accomplishments, cheering us on coming down the stretch. I’ve been in the last match both days, and to be able to see that is special for me.”

Homa sat on a wide rostrum with teammates, who suddenly were listening intently.

“The golf’s amazing,” Homa continued. “But you remember that kind of stuff well into your days, so I feel very thankful for that. I mean, I was nervous as could be over that putt, but it was fun. I was telling my wife … money cannot buy that feeling. And that was something that I will remember forever, and I will tell anybody who ever wants to hear about it how that felt.”

The final score of this Presidents Cup won’t reflect that eloquence. Nor will it provide a record of the great shots that were in vain, like Xander Schauffele putting in from well off the 15th green as he and Cantlay went 1 up with three to play over Kim/Kim on Saturday.

Those who saw it won’t soon forget Sungjae Im chipping in for birdie on 14 as he and Muñoz tied Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns in the week’s best match, a Four-ball contest Friday. Im/Muñoz birdied six straight back-nine holes and won just one of them. They made nine birdies and no bogeys; Scheffler/Burns made nine birdies, an eagle, and two bogeys.

The final score will not reflect the rub of the green, Tom Kim driving into the trees on the first hole Saturday afternoon only to laugh when his ball ricocheted back in the fairway. It will not show how high Spieth’s chip-in bounced when it hit the back of the hole on 15 late Saturday as he and Justin Thomas beat Hideki Matsuyama/Taylor Pendrith 4 and 3.

“I would have celebrated more,” Spieth, the MVP of the U.S. Team, said with a wry smile. “It was going in kind of hard. I didn’t know if it was actually going to go in.”

Added Thomas, who had left himself just 4 1/2 feet for a birdie that became moot, “I putted ten times today. I played two matches, and I hit ten putts. I think that’s pretty absurd. I legitimately think I picked my coin up more than I hit putts. So yeah, my partner’s pretty good.”

The final score will not reflect Spieth’s sportsmanship when asked about the Internationals’ surprising and raucous 3-1 rally Saturday afternoon to go into the Singles down 11-7.

“I thought it was a cool moment for those guys on the 18th green,” he said.

In the end, the International Team’s exuberance did not require the U.S. Team to stew in misery, or vice-versa. U.S. Captain Davis Love III presumably would get a taste of the International Team’s seven-culture cuisine at the after-party, always a glorious mashup of happy combatants.

The scoreboard can’t measure that sort of thing, or explain how 12 men played for each other, the flag, the shield. It won’t reflect how time stood still as players became giants, at times surprising themselves more than anyone. But they knew, we all knew, and everyone spilled into the North Carolina night happy to tell anybody who asks how that felt.

DAY THREE

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This thing ain’t over yet.

While the Americans still lead this 14th Presidents Cup by a comfortable margin, the Internationals are still alive after taking Saturday afternoon’s fourballs session, 3-1, and closing the gap to 11-7 entering Sunday singles.

Tom Kim, the 20-year-old rookie from South Korea, and another rookie, Cam Davis, stepped up late to help the visiting side secure two big points, which clinched a 5-3 two-session performance by the Internationals on Saturday.

“Today was a great day,” Adam Scott said. “We were in a deep hole coming here on the bus this morning, and all of the boys dug really deep. You know, we halved the morning session, and we won in afternoon session, and the momentum, you know, I think over the course of my career in this, there hasn’t been many times I’ve felt momentum going our way. And today, we had the momentum. We certainly have it finishing this evening, and it will be great if we could keep it rolling tomorrow.”

Added International captain Trevor Immelman: “This morning on the bus at 5:50, I challenged these guys to win the day, and they did. … I’m almost in tears here.”

In order to win the Cup on Sunday, the Internationals will need to earn at least 8 1/2 out of a possible 12 points in singles. However, the Internationals have never earned eight or more points in singles in 13 previous Cups. Twice they’ve posted 7 1/2-point final sessions.

SCHEDULE

the U.S. leads 11-7 entering Sunday singles after the Internationals won Saturday’s two-session day, 5-3, at the 14th Presidents Cup. The home team needs to reach 15 1/2 point in order to win the competition for the 12th time.

Here’s a look at the 12 matchups, with NBC beginning live coverage at noon ET (all times ET):

12:02 p.m.: Justin Thomas (U.S.) vs. Si Woo Kim (INT)

12:14 p.m.: Jordan Spieth (U.S.) vs. Cam Davis (INT)

12:26 p.m.: Sam Burns (U.S.) vs. Hideki Matsuyama (INT)

12:38 p.m.: Patrick Cantlay (U.S.) vs. Adam Scott (INT)

12:50 p.m.: Scottie Scheffler (U.S.) vs. Sebastian Munoz (INT)

1:02 p.m.: Tony Finau (U.S.) vs. Taylor Pendrith (INT)

1:14 p.m.: Xander Schauffele (U.S.) vs. Corey Conners (INT)

1:26 p.m.: Cameron Young (U.S.) vs. Sungjae Im (INT)

1:38 p.m.: Billy Horschel (U.S.) vs. K.H. Lee (INT)

1:50 p.m.: Max Homa (U.S.) vs. Tom Kim (INT)

2:02 p.m.: Collin Morikawa (U.S.) vs. Mito Pereira (INT)

2:14 p.m.: Kevin Kisner (U.S.) vs. Christiaan Bezuidenhout (INT)

The International Team needed a big second-round comeback Friday and didn’t get it despite playing their preferred Four-ball format. And now the U.S. Team, which holds an 11-1-1 record since the inception of the Presidents Cup in 1994, looks even more comfortably in control.

The home team takes an 8-2 lead into Saturday’s two-session day of eight matches after winning Friday’s Four-balls, 4-1.

Time after time, the Internationals watched putts slide past the hole, starting with Corey Conners’ missed birdie putt from 4 feet, 3 inches at the first. Meanwhile the U.S. Team seemingly couldn’t miss, with Sam Burns ringing up an 80-foot eagle putt at the par-5 seventh, a hole the U.S. Team owned.

Cameron Young also eagled the seventh, as did Patrick Cantlay. The U.S. Team’s three eagles in three consecutive matches, winning the hole each time, told the story of the 14th Presidents Cup.

The U.S. Team led all five matches before any had made the turn, once again putting the International Team on its back foot. But after the U.S. collected wins from its two stalwart teams – Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele – the International Team mounted a comeback and was able to tie the other three matches. It was an opportunity to climb back into contention but U.S. rookies kept the visitors at bay, highlighted by Max Homa’s back-to-back birdies on the final two holes of the final match to give the U.S. a 1-up win.

Saturday morning’s four Foursomes matches will begin at 7:12 a.m., with the afternoon session of Four-ball matches beginning at 12:05. The Presidents Cup is only one-third of its way through its 30 matches, but the United States has already exerted itself at Quail Hollow.

Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas (U.S.) def. Adam Scott/Cam Davis (Intl.), 2 and 1

With a comfortable lead (4-1), Carolina temperatures cooling into the 70s and two U.S. Presidents (Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) in attendance on the first tee, the U.S. carried some nice momentum into Friday’s Four-ball play. Spieth and Thomas, heading out first, weren’t about to surrender an inch of it.

The U.S. Team eased into the round with three pars, then made birdies on four of five holes to construct a 3-up lead. Thomas, who won the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow, rolled in a 16-foot birdie at the par-3 fourth and added a 10-foot birdie make at the fifth to put the U.S. on top, 2-up. Spieth added an up-and-down birdie at the short eighth.

A birdie from Scott at the ninth (8 feet) kept the Internationals in the game. The Aussies would add birdies on the next three holes, yet picked up no ground, the U.S. protecting its 2-up lead. Spieth kept it that way with a key 10-footer at the par-5 12th. Thomas’ third deuce of the day came at the daunting par-3 14th (adding to his birdies at Nos. 4 and 10), where his 6-iron shot from 229 yards finished 3 feet behind the hole. The U.S. was 8-under through 14 holes. Spieth added a huge par save at the long 15th, then sealed the match with a downhill birdie putt from 20 feet at 17.

Thomas improved to 5-0-0 in Presidents Cup Four-ball play, the first competitor to win his first five matches in the format; Spieth, who made a putting adjustment to get his hands more forward in address, is 4-2-1.

QUOTES: “I really enjoy a great partner. I’m glad I put some ham in my omelette this morning, for a nice little ham ‘n egg out there. Jordan is starting to feel it with his putter, and it’s a fun site to see.” – Justin Thomas

“I was trying to drop that in the front edge (his winning putt) and it was going a good 5 or 6 (feet) by. It wasn’t exactly what I was trying to do there. But it was the right line. … He (Thomas) made a good amount of birdies out there, and they were on the opposite holes of mine, and that’s just the way it needs to be in Four-ball.” – Jordan Spieth

Score at match’s conclusion: U.S. Team 5, International Team 1

Scottie Scheffler/Sam Burns (U.S.) tied Sungjae Im/Sebastian Muñoz (Intl.)

Consider this: Im and Munoz, a rookie playing in his first match, were 9-under standing on the 17th tee – and were 1-down to the powerhouse pairing of Scheffler/Burns.

Both teams were hot, making lots of birdies, though it was a par by Munoz at the par-4 17th that sent the match to 18. Scheffler, the world No. 1 and Burns – a three-time winner last season – were looking to atone for their loss in the opening round of Foursomes, and never trailed. Im did what he could down the stretch. When he chipped in for birdie at the par-3 14th and holed a 33-foot birdie putt at the next hole, the U.S. answered. First it was Scheffler (10 feet) at 14. Burns then birdied the brutal 15th from 22 feet, keeping the U.S. ahead.

The U.S. had control early on. Burns didn’t like his approach into the par-5 seventh, but he enjoyed the uphill 80-foot eagle putt – 80 feet! – that slowed near the hole and dropped. Im made a valiant attempt at making his chip from over the green, but his ball stopped short. The U.S. led, 1-up.

Burns seemed to break things open when he made a 16-foot birdie putt at the par-4 ninth, then hit 7-iron at the 178-yard 10th to 3 feet. Scheffler kept momentum with a 7-foot birdie at 11 that matched a birdie by Munoz. The U.S. was 2-up through 12. The scenes at 14 and 15 were thrilling for the large Quail Hollow crowds. At 18, it came down to Im (facing 24 feet for birdie) and Scheffler (9 feet). Im’s bid for his sixth birdie died off short and right; Scheffler’s putt for the win hung on the left edge of the cup, but refused to fall.

QUOTES: “We just kind of kept in touch with them as much as we could. On 14, Sungjae made an awesome birdie. They responded back. Then on 15, he made another awesome birdie. Then they responded back. It was a ton of fun. It was a good match, good golf.” – Sebastian Munoz

“I feel glad that we didn’t give up a point. We played too well to give up any points. So happy to come up with half a point there.” – Sungjae Im

Score at match’s conclusion: U.S. Team 6 1/2, International Team 1 1/2

Kevin Kisner/Cameron Young (U.S.) tied Mito Pereira/Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Intl.)

Out of 10 matches over two days, this was the first where the Internationals enjoyed a lead for any semblance of time. Through 13 holes, the visitors were on top, 1-up. In such a tight match, the end result – each team earning half a point – proved fitting.

Kisner, a match-play bulldog, and Bezuidenhout, a top putter on the International side, made their 2022 Presidents Cup debuts (Kisner played on the winning U.S. team in 2017, going 2-0-2). Kisner had a strong partner in Young, who gave himself some nice looks in the early going.

Bezuidenhout trickled in a slick, downhill 25-footer at three for the match’s first birdie, but Young came right back by stuffing his tee shot to 3 feet at the fourth. When Young hit a second shot to 6 feet to set up eagle at the 554-yard seventh, the U.S. temporarily was up in all five matches.

Bezuidenhout tied the match at the ninth, and Pereira put the Internationals on top with a birdie from 5 feet at the par-3 10th. The U.S. birdied the next two holes (Kisner from 10 feet at 11), but Pereira matched both to protect the 1-up lead. Young’s two-putt par at the long par-3 14th leveled the match. The teams would tie the final five holes, with Pereira, Kisner and Young all missing long birdie putts at the last.

QUOTES: “We just didn’t make any putts all day to really gain the momentum and keep it rolling. They made a few to keep them alive. If we had putted better, I think we’d have a different result.” – Kevin Kisner

“I felt like I was pretty comfortable really from early on yesterday. We had a good time out there. I had a really nice day, and I’ve been relatively comfortable the whole time.” – Presidents Cup rookie Cameron Young

Score at match’s conclusion: U.S. Team 7, International Team 2

Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay (U.S.) def. Hideki Matsuyama/Tom Kim (Intl.), 3 and 2

After going out first a day earlier, Schauffele/Cantlay were tucked further back in the lineup, this time toward the middle, one of three teams sent back out by U.S. Team Captain Davis Love III.

The U.S. Team put together a blistering opening nine, shooting 6-under. Here’s how things went: Matsuyama was closer to the hole in two shots than Schauffele at the fifth, but, following a trend through two days, the U.S. converted its birdie chance (10 feet) and the Internationals (9 feet) missed. Cantlay birdied six (17 feet), then almost holed a second shot at the par-5 seventh, where he made a 10-foot putt for eagle.

Schauffele made four birdies in the first eight holes, though the one he made at the seventh was clipped by Cantlay’s starry eagle. When Schauffele made birdie at the eighth, the U.S. was 5-up.

Despite a big lead, though, the U.S. side struggled to close the match out. Kim, the 20-year-old who won the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina, made his first birdie at the 12th hole, added another at 14 (from 7 feet) and was conceded a 15-footer at 15 to keep the Internationals alive. When both teams birdied the 16th hole, the match was over.

QUOTES: “We’re playing our own ball, so obviously a couple more attempts at birdie, and we were able to take advantage of that.” – Xander Schauffele

“You just have to stay in the moment as best you can, and not get ahead of yourself. Tom making birdie (at 14), that’s a great birdie. We played really well. When you get out to a lead like that, you kind of just tell yourself that it’s inevitable, and you keep hitting quality shots and you’ll close it out.” – Patrick Cantlay

Score at match’s conclusion: U.S. Team 6, International Team 1

Billy Horschel/Max Homa (U.S.) def. Corey Conners/Taylor Pendrith (Intl.), 1-up

There wasn’t a great deal going on in this match for the longest time, and then these four Presidents Cup rookies produced a wild finish, each team executing clutch shots once the spotlight fell on them.

Homa, a winner last week in the PGA TOUR’s season debut in Napa (Fortinet Championship), where he pitched in on the 72nd hole, made birdie putts at the final two holes to carry the U.S. to a 4-1 result for the second consecutive day. Homa sank a 13-foot birdie at 17 to put the U.S. on top, 1-up, and matched Pendrith with a birdie from 11 feet at the par-4 18th. Pendrith had lipped out for birdie from 20 feet at 17, his ball circling the cup and spinning out, and rolled in a must-make 14-footer at 18. But Homa’s late heroics were too much.

Birdies would be tough to find early on, with Conners missing from 4 feet at the very first hole. The U.S. forged a 2-up advantage after winning both front-nine par 3s (4 and 6) with pars. In fact, the U.S. would not make its first birdie until the eighth hole (Horschel, from 4 feet), yet still managed to take a 2-up lead to second nine against their cold-starting opponents.

Conners cut the U.S. advantage in half with a 6-foot birdie at 11, and with his partner in tight at the par-4 13th, he stepped up and rolled in a 33-foot birdie to tie the match. The two Canadians have a tight bond – each was best man in the other’s wedding – and fought hard, finding something on the second nine only to come up just short. The Internationals head to the weekend trailing 8-2.

QUOTES: “This is insane. … Man, what a day. Billy made some amazing putts, and I just wanted to help him. To have an opportunity at the last to do it, it was amazing. That’s a day that I will never forget.” – Max Homa

“I’ve never been this nervous in my life this morning. I felt like I was going to throw up for about three hours straight, just in anticipation of being able to play finally. To have a match like this … we made big shots and big putts when we needed to. I know Max was going to make some putts. It was just a matter of time.” – Billy Horschel

Score at match’s conclusion: U.S. Team 8, International Team 2

DAY ONE

The 14th Presidents Cup commenced Thursday at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, with Round 1 of competition featuring five Foursomes matches (alternate shot).

The United States won four of those matches to take a 4-1 lead entering Friday’s five Four-balls matches.

Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay started the day with a 6-and-5 victory over the Internationals’ most experienced team, Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott. It was the largest win in a Presidents Cup Foursomes match in more than a decade and moved Cantlay and Schauffele to 5-0-0 in foursomes in international team competition.

The International Team had opportunities to draw closer – it was 1-down on the back nine in four matches – but was unable to flip the script on Quail Hollow’s back nine. The Internationals’ lone victory came from Si Woo Kim and Cam Davis, who beat PGA TOUR Player of the Year Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns, 2 up.

Here’s a recap of all five matches from the Presidents Cup’s opening day:

Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele (U.S.) def. Adam Scott/Hideki Matsuyama (Intl.), 6 and 5

The International side put its most experienced guns out first, but they were no match for Cantlay/Schauffele, the day’s lone bogey-free team. By the time this match reached the eighth tee, the U.S. owned a 4-up advantage.

Scott struggled with the pace of the greens early, and the Internationals handed away the par-4 third with a three-putt. Cantlay would get hot with the putter, rolling in birdie putts on Nos. 5 (9-feet) and 6 (13-foot curler). Schauffele had but 167 yards left into the par-5 seventh after a 360-yard bomb off the tee by Cantlay, setting up another easy birdie. The U.S. was 4-up.

The Internationals birdied No. 8, but Scott missed from 8 feet for birdie at 10, a putt that would have cut the deficit to 2-down. From there, the U.S. rolled, with Scott and Matsuyama finishing with three bogeys and the match ending on 13. They fell to 1-4-1 when teamed in the Presidents Cup. Cantlay/Schauffele are 5-0 in Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup Foursomes.

QUOTES: “With the wind picking up and that storm getting close to us, we felt like the wind was all over the place. We told ourselves to ballstrike the heck of out this place, and that’s what we did. – Xander Schauffele

“We’ve played a lot of alternate-shot with each other, and I think we just feel very comfortable and confident. On a day like today, to make no bogeys, that was really good golf.” – Patrick Cantlay

Score at match’s conclusion: U.S. Team 1, International Team 0

Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas (U.S.) def. Sungjae Im/Corey Conners (International), 2 and 1

Spieth and Thomas continue to build momentum as a formidable pair in U.S. cup play, and followed the lead of teammates Cantlay/Schauffele in building a big early lead. Im and Conners, arguably the two best ballstrikers on the visiting side, were 3-down through six holes, but soon found their rhythm and made a good match of it.

Im, impressive as a rookie three years ago (3-1-1), and Conners, a rookie, won the seventh (with eagle) and ninth holes (with birdie); only a matching 10-foot birdie putt by Thomas at the short eighth kept the Internationals from winning three consecutive holes near the end of the nine. Both teams made a mess of the 11th hole (bogeys) and failed to birdie the par-5 12th.

Classic match play on the difficult 15th (normally Quail’s 18th): The Internationals had 5 feet for par; the U.S. was staring at bogey, scrambling hard after a poor drive by Spieth. Thomas made his 27-foot putt for par. Conners pulled his par putt. The U.S. left the green 2-up, not tied, and earned victory with two pars, with Im missing a 9-footer to win the 16th. The Internationals did not make a birdie on the second nine. Spieth is 6-0-0 in Presidents Cup Foursomes; Thomas is 3-0-2.

QUOTES: “You win when you pick up your partner. That switch that we had on 15 (Thomas making a long par putt) was unreal. We’re looking at going to even, and instead we leave that green 2-up. It was an unbelievable second shot and putt by Justin. It was the difference in the match.” – Jordan Spieth

“We played a really, really good team, a team that hits a lot of fairways, a lot of quality shots. I hit some unbelievably questionable shots; I think that’s why we make such a great team. We can salvage when we don’t have our best stuff on a day like today.” – Justin Thomas

Score at match’s conclusion: U.S. Team 2, International Team 0

Cameron Young/Collin Morikawa (U.S.) def. Tom Kim/K.H. Lee (Intl.), 2 and 1

In his Presidents Cup debut, the long-hitting Young struggled some with the putter inside 10 feet, then made a huge birdie putt from 26 feet to close out the match at the 17th.

This was an interesting match all around, with all but Morikawa heading out in their very first Presidents Cup competition. There is great interest in Kim, at age 20 the third-youngest competitor ever to compete at the Presidents Cup, and he showed some great emotion when he made a clutch par putt at 15.

Young was smashing the driver, and Morikawa was showing off his strength with his irons. But Young missed a few key putts that potentially would have stretched the slim U.S. lead. The Internationals won the 11th with a par and birdied 12 (11-foot birdie putt from Lee) to tie the match. The U.S. nudged ahead again at 13 when Morikawa stuffed a terrific approach to 3 feet. The U.S. protected that lead by making pars until Young drained the decisive putt at 17.

Score at match’s conclusion: U.S. Team 3, International Team 0

QUOTES: “It was awesome. I had a really good partner that I leaned on. The fans have been awesome, really loud, and I’m having a great time.” – Cameron Young

“It’s nice to have a good match today, and finish it off in style.” – Collin Morikawa

Score at match’s conclusion: U.S. Team 3, International Team 0

Si Woo Kim/Cam Davis (Intl.) def. Scottie Scheffler/Sam Burns (U.S.), 2-up 

A year ago, Scheffler was the last man on the U.S. Ryder Cup side, a captain’s pick, and Burns was home watching. My, how far we’ve come. These young/old friends could be a stout pairing for years.

But the stars on this day were Kim, the former PLAYERS champion from South Korea, and Davis, a 27-year-old Presidents Cup rookie from Australia, who worked hard to get the Internationals on the board. Up against two of the hottest young talents in American golf, the Internationals scratched back from a 3-down deficit after seven holes and pulled out a stunning triumph.

The Internationals went to the 15th tee 2-down, then won the match’s final four holes. The U.S. tandem botched the difficult 15th, making double, and from there the Internationals stepped through the opening. Kim made birdie from 11 feet at 16, and Davis hit a terrific approach to just outside 3 feet at the par-4 17th.

That left the U.S. 1-down and needing to win 18 to salvage a tie. But Burns hit his tee shot left into some pine straw and Scheffler caught a limb trying to pull off an aggressive second shot. They failed to match the par the Internationals would make from just off the front of the green after a terrific lag putt by Davis.

QUOTES: “We had a brutal first nine, were kind of nervous. We don’t play much this format. Hard to figure out. We tried to keep positive, Cameron and me, and it was great, the end.” – Si Woo Kim

“That was the first shot of the day (his approach at 17) that came off exactly as I wanted, and it was a great time for that to happen. We needed that one. We wanted to get ahead for the first time and keep playing positively, and aggressively, down 18. It was really cool. Felt awesome.” – Cam Davis

Score at match’s conclusion: U.S. Team 3, International Team 1

Tony Finau/Max Homa (U.S.) def. Taylor Pendrith/Mito Pereira (Intl.),  1-up

This match was the tightest of the day, with the teams knotted heading down the final hole. An errant drive by Pereira would prove costly, with the U.S. sealing a full point with a two-putt par from 27 feet.

The U.S. side caught a nice break at the rugged 15th, the long par-4 finish of what usually is the end of the Green Mile. Homa’s second shot from a right fairway bunker was headed toward the creek running along the left side of the hole. His ball hit a rock and bounded backwards, and from there, Finau hit a deft chip and Homa stepped up and made the 9-footer to salvage par.

Both teams birdied the par-5 16th, and tied the 17th with pars. On they went to the 489-yard 18th, where Pereira had the honors but hooked his drive left. (Homa split the fairway with his tee ball, a huge advantage.) Pendrith, one of two Canadians on the International squad, hit a towering iron from 215 yards that finished in the right greenside bunker. Pereira left Pendrith 10 feet for par, but Pendrith’s putt stayed right. Bogey.

The U.S. was 2-up through seven, but the Internationals broke through at No. 8 when Pereira hit his tee shot to the fringe at the short par 4. The Internationals would trail 1-down until Pereira hit his approach to 3 feet at the short 13th to tie the match. Homa, Pendrith and Pereira all were competing in their first Presidents Cup match.

QUOTES: “Whoever hit the fairway (on 18) was going to have the big advantage, and Homey (Homa) stepped up after Mito missed the fairway. He set us up for me to aim at the middle of the green, and to force them to make a putt to halve the match. Taylor hit a good putt and just missed. Happy with the full point.” – Tony Finau

“Tony keeps me very, very calm. You can tell he’s competitive and wants to win, but he’s a soothing partner. He makes it easy.” – Max Homa

“A great start (for the team). A lot of heart. … We have some strong pairings for the next format. We’re going to run the same offense, and try to win each session.” – U.S. Captain Davis Love III

Score at match’s conclusion: U.S. Team 4, International Team 1

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