U.S. team player Jordan Spieth celebrates his birdie putt on the 10th hole during a four-ball match at the Presidents Cup golf tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club Thursday in Dublin, Ohio. (Jay LaPrete / Associated Press)
Dublin, Ohio — The Americans survived a late rally Thursday and put the International team in a familiar hole at the Presidents Cup.
Steve Stricker blasted out of a plugged lie in the face of a bunker to three feet to save par as he and 20-year-old Jordan Spieth hung on for a 1-up win in the final match on the course at Muirfield Village. That victory gave the Americans a 3˝-2˝ lead, the fourth straight time they have led after the opening session in the Presidents Cup.
The Americans led in every match early in the session and were ahead in five of them when thunderstorms and a few bursts of rain stopped play for 1˝ hours. None of the matches had gone more than 10 holes, though the delay at least gave the International team a sense of starting over.
“The break did us really good,” Louis Oosthuizen said. “We came back out, felt refreshed and just played well.”
Jason Day and Graham DeLaet rallied from 3 down to Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker, winning on the 18th hole when Day made a 20-foot birdie putt. In the best match of the day, Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama battled from 2 down to Bill Haas and Webb Simpson with five holes to play to earn a halve when the 21-year-old Japanese star hit his approach to two feet for birdie on the last hole.
Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel gave Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson their first loss. The South Africans, best of friends since junior golf, took their first lead on the 11th hole and didn’t lose another hole until they had a 2-and-1 win.
The exceptions were Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman, who were only 3 under in the shortest match of the day. They lost, 5 and 4, toTiger Woods and Matt Kuchar. The Americans used a handshake from “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” and they used it a lot.
“That was definitely all me,” Kuchar said. “That stems from ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.’ I figured this guy was the perfect Carlton.”
Woods turned out to be a decent partner, too. Kuchar was his 19th partner in the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup, and it was a solid debut. Kuchar won at Muirfield Village in June, while Woods is a five-time champion at the Memorial.
“We both have the low stroke averages in this tournament’s history,” Woods said.
Nicolas Colsaerts and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano beat Scott Jamieson and Marc Warren 5 and 3 in the final opening fourballs match to give Continental Europe a 3˝-1˝ lead over Britain and Ireland in the Seve Trophy in Saint-Nom-la-Breteche, France.
The teams of Joost Luiten-Gregory Bourdy and Mikko Ilonen-Thorbjorn Olesen also earned full points for Continental Europe. Luiten and Bourdy beat Jamie Donaldson and David Lynn 2 and 1, and Ilonen and Olesen edged Tommy Fleetwood and Chris Wood 1 up. Continental Europe's Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero halved their match with Paul Casey and Simon Khan. Britain and Ireland's Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher edged Thomas Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez 3 and 2.
Britain and Ireland has won the last six meetings after losing the inaugural event in 2000.
Reignwood LPGA Classic
American Jessica Korda and South Korea's Na Yeon Choi shot 9-under 64 to share the first-round lead in the inaugural Reignwood LPGA Classic in Beijing, China.
Choi birdied her last four holes, while Korda matched her career-best round.
Third-ranked Stacy Lewis was tied for second at 68 with South Koreans Hee Young Park and Hee Kyung Seo. Top-ranked Inbee Park of South Korea opened with a 69.