A memorable start that featured the previous three U.S. presidents on the first tee ended with a familiar result in the Presidents Cup. The Americans are out to another big lead in the event they haven’t lost in nearly two decades.
PGA champion Justin Thomas made his professional team debut with a short day of work as he and Rickie Fowler lost only two holes in a 6-and-4 victory. Jordan Spieth holed a 35-foot putt that sent him and Patrick Reed to another victory. Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar remained unbeaten.
The Americans won the opening session for the sixth straight time in the Presidents Cup and built a 3 ½-1 ½ lead Thursday after the opening foursomes matches.
Phil Mickelson, playing in his 23rd consecutive team competition, ended the tough, wind-swept afternoon at Liberty National by missing an 8-foot par putt, or the U.S. lead would have been even greater. He and Kevin Kisner were 1 down with two holes remaining to Jason Day and Marc Leishman, so a half-point wasn’t bad.
Mickelson’s only complaint was that he botched his selfie with former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, with barely his head showing.
Smooth day for U.S.
For the most part, everything else went the Americans’ way.
The lone bright spot for the International team was Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace, who improved to 5-0 as a tandem. The South African duo pulled away for a 3-and-1 victory over U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger.
Canada’s Adam Hadwin is on the International team but did not participate in Thursday’s matches.
The stars on this day didn’t hit a shot.
The leader of every country where the Presidents Cup is held are invited to be honorary chairman, but this was a first — three U.S. presidents together at this event, sitting together in a box on the first tee and then posing with the trophy, the players and their wives.
“I was looking forward to this Presidents Cup for a very long time, and I didn’t expect all the presidents to be there,” Charl Schwartzel of South Africa said. “Just to get to meet them was a dream come true for me. Then to hit that first tee shot with the wind pumping off the right was quite intimidating.”
The Americans have a 9-1-1 lead in the series, their lone loss in 1998 at Royal Melbourne a few weeks before Christmas.
Been there before
Nick Price, back as International captain for the third time, was not ready to panic. The Americans opened a 4-1 lead after the opening…