Team USA raced into a commanding 4-1 lead after day one of the Presidents Cup, as the omission of LIV Golf stars hit the International side hard.
The Ryder Cup replica event is sanctioned by the PGA Tour, meaning anyone who opted to leave the traditional tours and join the Saudi rebel series was ineligible to feature following Jay Monahan’s decision to suspend players from the US-based circuit.
That has left International captain Trevor Immelman with a threadbare side, bereft of the likes of Cameron Smith, Joaquin Niemann Louis Oosthuizen, Abraham Ancer and Marc Leishman.
Minus such firepower had many fearing for the competitiveness of what is already a typically one-sided affair, and those fears look likely to be realized after a dismal start by the away team on Thursday at Quail Hollow.
Immelman opted to front-load his pairings in a bid to establish some early momentum, with the duo of Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama getting the contest underway. However, that plan backfired as the former Major champions succumbed to the formidable Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay to the tune of 6&5.
That the US did not complete a clean sweep on day one is the only real source of optimism for the Internationals. A sea of red momentum dominated proceedings in Charlotte, North Carolina until Si Woo Kim and rookie Cam Davis staged an unlikely late comeback from 3 down to defeat Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns 2 up.
In game two, Jordan Spieth kept up his flawless foursomes record in the Presidents Cup, combining with Justin Thomas to take down Sungjae Im and Corey Conners at the 17th, while in game three, Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young got the better of Tom Kim and KH Lee.
The final match went down to the wire but ultimately fell the way of the hosts when Taylor Pendrith missed from 10 feet to cap off a miserable day at the first tournament that feels like it has truly been impacted by golf’s ongoing Civil War.
That we’re not able to marvel at some potential blockbuster match-ups at a venue that looks tailor made for this format is a travesty for all involved, especially given the momentum created by Ernie Els and his side when the Internationals ran the United States close at Royal Melbourne three years ago.
If that was a step forward for the Presidents Cup, 2022 threatens to take it two steps back as thoughts already turn to record margins of victory. Should Friday follow Thursday’s lead, the contest will be as good as over without having ever really begun, and will only increase pressure on the PGA Tour to relax its stance on its noisy rival.
2022 Presidents Cup: Day one results
Match 1: Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele (US) def. Adam Scott/Hideki Matsuyama (INT), 6 and 5
Match 2: Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas def. Sungjae Im/Corey Conners (INT), 2 and 1
Match 3: Cameron Young/Collin Morikawa (US) def. Tom Kim/KH Lee (INT), 2 and 1
Match 4: Si Woo Kim/Cam Davis (INT) def. Scottie Scheffler/Sam Burns (US), 2-up
Match 5: Tony Finau/Max Homa (US) def. Taylor Pendrith/Mito Pereira (INT), 1-up