/ Golf

US take narrow lead after first day of Presidents Cup

Updated: Friday, 04 Oct 2013 12:32 | Comments

Tiger Woods cheers on his team-mates
Tiger Woods cheers on his team-mates

The United States took a one-point lead after the weather-delayed opening-day fourballs at the Presidents Cup at Muirfield.

Matt Kuchar and Tiger Woods hammered Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman 5&4 and Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner were almost as impressive against South Africans Richard Sterne and Branden Grace, winning 5&3.

Steve Stricker's excellent up-and-down at the last earned himself and Jordan Spieth a one-up win over Ernie Els and Brendon de Jonge.

But the international team salvaged some hope with a hard-fought one-up win for Jason Day and Graeme DeLaet against Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker and a 2&1 success for Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel over Ryder Cup success story Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley.

Hideki Matsuyama's strong finish alongside Adam Scott earned a half against Bill Haas and Webb Simpson.

Kuchar and Woods were dominant from the moment Kuchar opened with a birdie three. Woods matched that effort at the sixth and though Leishman birdied the par-three eighth, it was the only reply for the international pair.

Kuchar responded immediately and Woods won the 10th and 12th, with Kuchar's birdie at the 13th putting the States dormie five.

And when Woods matched Cabrera's four at the next, it was game over and a thumping home win.

Johnson and Dufner won their first three holes with birdies and Johnson added another at the sixth to put them four up on Grace and Sterne.

Sterne birdied the seventh and Grace the 10th but Dufner's birdie at the long 11th put the Americans three up again. Johnson birdied the 14th to make it dormie four and the pair each birdied the 15th to clinch victory.

The other American win also came about due to a strong start as Stricker birdied the first, third and seventh to set up a two-hole lead, De Jonge having won the second.

The latter pulled a hole back with birdie at the 13th and though Spieth immediately responded, Els birdied 17 to take the match down the last.

De Jonge was the only player to find the green in two, with Spieth hitting his tee-shot into the water and both Stricker and Els finding sand with their approaches. Stricker, though, produced a stunning bunker shot to three feet and De Jonge could not hole his putt.

For much of the day, America looked set to take a huge lead as they led in five of the six matches when play was suspended due to the threat of lightning in Columbus.

But the visiting team roared back late in the afternoon to keep the contest close with Day and DeLaet, in particular, turning their match around.

After DeLaet's opening birdie, Mahan and Snedeker won four of the next five holes before Day hit back with birdie at the seventh and par at the eighth.

Day and DeLaet levelled at the 15th and the latter birdied the par-three 16th after a brilliant tee-shot and though Snedeker won the 17th to level matters, a fine birdie putt for Day at the last clinched the point for the international pair.

Mickelson and Bradley also led on the front nine but three birdies in four holes from the eighth gave Oosthuizen and Schwartzel a lead which they never relinquished.

And Schwartzel's birdie at the 17th ensured there was no way back for the home pair.

In the other match, Simpson birdied the first and Haas and Scott then traded blows to leave the Americans one ahead with three to play, before Matsuyama levelled at the 16th.

Haas birdied the 17th to put the US one up with one to play but again Matsuyama responded to earn a half.

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