Millennium Post

Lahiri-Thongchai among 4 losses for int’ls; US lead 4-1

The Americans may not have a handle on the Ryder Cup, but they sure have a stranglehold on the Presidents Cup. Pumping fists, shaking hands and smiling all around, they cantered to a 4-1 lead at the end of the first day of the competition they have not lost to the Internationals since 1998. In fact that was the only time the International team, comprising players from all nations outside the US and Europe, won and they tied once in 2003. The Americans have won the Ryder Cup only once in last 16 years .

The opening day of the first-ever Presidents Cup in Asia may not have produced golf of the highest order, but the golf-loving public of Korea lapped it up, as virtually each of the five matches were followed by huge crowds all around. In a team filled with five rookies, it was the Rookie combination of the rising Indian star, Anirban Lahiri and Thai legend, Thongchai Jaidee, who gave the Americans their first point as an in-form Rickie Fowler wielding a sizzling hot putter nailed each putt that came his way and combined with the highly consistent Jimmy Walker to win by the biggest margin of the day at 5&4.

Barring one loss, that of Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar at the hands of the South Africans, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace, the Americans won each of the other matches handily.

Perhaps, other than the most avidly followed Jordan Spieth-Dustin Johnson pairing which effortlessly took out almost unheralded Danny Lee and Marc Leishman 4&3, it was the combination of veteran Phil Mickelson, who has played each Presidents Cup competition since inception in 1994, and Zach Johnson, the reigning Open champion, that attracted a lot of attention. Phil and Zach not only shook hands stylishly after each memorable shot, but also pushed each other to higher levels. Mickelson needed the trust and ‘picking rights’ of US captain Jay Haas to make his 11th Presidents Cup team and he paid back that faith in ample measure as they beat World No. 2 Jason Day and Steve Bowditch.
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