It was easy (and maybe even en vogue) to be optimistic about the 2022 Presidents Cup entering Day 1 foursomes action Thursday. Perhaps that was wishful thinking or simply a nod of goodwill to those on both sides of the matches that stuck around to play this event rather than defecting to LIV Golf. Whatever the case, the United States put an end to it early and often, once again racing out to a massive lead to start the festivities at Quail Hollow.
The 4-1 advantage by the U.S. looks massive, but it could have been so much worse. The International team led after just three of the 83 holes played over five alternate shot matches on Thursday, and luckily for the visitors, two of those holes were the final two Cameron Davis and Si Woo Kim played against the titanic twosome on the American side of Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns. That was the lone bright spot on a difficult day for Trevor Immelman's side.
None of this was particularly unexpected given both the depleted International roster and the format of the event. The U.S. has now won or tied 16 consecutive foursomes (alternate shot) matches, which has proven to be the biggest format difference between them and the International team this century. The U.S. has not lost a Presidents Cup since 1998.
The problems for an International team that has moved to a 20-1 underdog, according to Caesars Sportsbook, are myriad. They'll play fourballs Friday across five more matches, but they will again have to go against the mighty U.S. side in foursomes Saturday, and it doesn't portend to go much better than it did Thursday. Furthermore, the U.S. now leads by a margin after the first day that has resulted in only one loss in Presidents Cup history (coincidentally, it was the International team that last blew a massive lead after the first session, and it came back in 2019 at Royal Melbourne).
The verbiage between the two captains after the matches was telling. Immelman, chin up but eyes belying his confidence, saying that the International team was going to keep fighting because that's all they know how to do. Davis Love III saying he was agonizing over who in the world he should sit out over the next few days.
A tale of two captains and the teams at their disposal. The optimism over a close Presidents Cup is completely gone after the first five matches this week. That doesn't mean there's not still plenty of value in continuing to follow the event, but it likely does mean what it's meant for the last eight Presidents Cups in a row: The United States will end up victorious.
Here is a breakdown of each match from Day 1 of the 2022 Presidents Cup.
2022 Presidents Cup scores, results
Day 1 (Foursomes) -- United States: 4 | International: 1
Patrick Cantlay & Xander Schauffele
Adam Scott & Hideki Matsuyama
Jordan Spieth & Justin Thomas
Corey Conners & Sungjae Im
Cameron Young & Collin Morikawa
K.H. Lee & Tom Kim
Sam Burns & Scottie Scheffler
Cameron Davis & Si Woo Kim
|5||Tony Finau & Max Homa||1 UP||Mito Pereira & Taylor Pendrith|
Match 1: Cantlay/Schauffele 6&5 over Matsuyama/Scott
Early and often the Americans took it to the internationals. Winning four of the first seven holes, Cantlay and Schauffele saw their lead balloon to 4 UP by the time they left the seventh green. Scott and Matsuyama tried their best to battle back and had a moment to tighten the match around the turn.
With an opportunity to cut the lead to 2 DN on the par-3 10th, Scott let his short birdie bid fall on the low side and later compounded this mistake by hitting his tee shot into the water on the par-4 11th. That was all she wrote in the first match off as Cantlay and Schauffele ultimately cruised to a 6&5 victory and improved their career foursomes record together to 5-0-0 between the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup.
Match 2: Thomas/Spieth 2&1 over Conners/Im
This is the match most had circled as all four players are tremendous iron players. After trading par on the first two holes, Spieth and Thomas put their foot on the gas by winning three of the next four holes. With a 3 UP lead through six, Im punched back and led the international side to a pair of wins to cut the margin to one at the turn.
That was as close as the internationals would get as they let opportunity after opportunity fall by the wayside on the back nine. Despite receiving little help from Conners, Im held the international team afloat with his steady tee-to-green presence.
The biggest blow of the match came on the par-4 15th (typically the 18th for the Wells Fargo Championship) when it looked as if the international side would finally draw even. Instead, Thomas connected from 20 feet for par and Conners missed from inside 10 to push the U.S. margin back to two with three holes to play.
"It was the difference in the match," said Spieth.
The U.S. held on from there and in the process improved Spieth's team record to 17-6-3 and Thomas' to 11-2-3 -- they both remain undefeated in Presidents Cup foursomes.
Match 3: Young/Morikawa 2&1 over Lee/Kim
With no Dustin Johnson on the roster, Cameron Young was the man to pair up with Collin Morikawa. Seeing how he played on some of the biggest stages this past season, it should come as no surprise Young thrived in this arena. Hitting a booming tee shot off the very first tee, the presumed PGA Tour Rookie of the Year set the tone for the day.
Battling back-and-forth with Lee and Kim, the Americans grabbed their first lead on the par-3 sixth. Adding to their edge at the turn, a short miss from Young on the par-3 10th gave the internationals some hope. They took it and ran by winning the next two holes and tying the match.
A close approach on the par-4 13th from Morikawa immediately squashed any thought of upset as the U.S. bounced back to a 1 UP lead. With three consecutive pars from both teams, a 25-foot birdie from the blade of Young put this match to bed on the 17th.
Match 4: Davis/Kim 2 UP over Burns/Scheffler
The biggest shocker of Day 1 came from the fourth match. After making birdie on the opening hole, it felt as if Burns and Scheffler would run away with this, but Kim and Davis held steady in the face of adversity. The international team quickly tied the match but fell to 3 DN after Davis dumped his approach into the water on the par-5 seventh.
Clawing back to 2 DN by the time they made the turn, Kim and Davis caught fire on the inward half. Slowly, but surely eating into the American lead, after winning the par-4 15th with a par, they eventually drew square with a tremendous birdie on the par-5 16th.
Set up by Davis, another birdie followed on the par-4 17th to grab their first lead of the day. With the Americans in trouble on the 18th, Davis and Kim cozied up their birdie putt to secure a 2 UP victory and the international's first point of the 2022 Presidents Cup.
Match 5: Homa/Finau 1 UP over Pereira/Pendrith
There wasn't a ton of quality golf in this match, but it was the most competitive and the second to reach the 18th. Pendrith and Pereira made bogey on four of their first six holes and only saw their deficit grow to 2 DN. The internationals eventually bounced back with birdies on the par-5 seventh and par-4 eighth to get to 1 DN by the time the two teams completed the front nine.
The Americans maintained their lead up until the internationals made birdie on the difficult 13th. As it was in the Thomas and Spieth victory, the pivotal moment came on the par-4 15th when U.S. made a miraculous par from no man's land to remain level with three to play.
On the following hole, they were primed to retake their lead until Pendrith converted an international birdie from 23 feet – the only international putt from outside 15 feet to fall on Day 1. A wayward drive from Pereira on the 18th was the final straw to break the camel's back and opened the door for Homa and Finau to claim a 1 UP victory in the final match of the day.