Narrow wins allow Americans to take the lead in the Presidents Cup

The United States needed three decisive wins to take a 4-1 lead over the International on Thursday at the Presidents Cup but the Americans were pleased with the results.

Team USA, winners of the last eight editions of the tag team golf showdown, have withstood three of their world rivals’ four late rallies in foursome matches at Quail Hollow.

“We’re very happy with the start,” USA captain Davis Love said. “We just have to stay on our plan and keep trying to win every game and every session and let the result take care of itself.”

American rookie Cameron Young birdied a 26-foot putt on the 17th hole to give himself and Collin Morikawa a 2&1 triumph over South Koreans Lee Kyoung-hoon and Kim Joo-hyung.

“I was thrilled he came in,” Young said. “It wasn’t a putt that I think you could really try to make. Anything at this distance here is hard to approach.

“I definitely hit a little too hard. It’s really fast…trying to make Collin’s life easier on the second. And every once in a while those come in.

On an emotional rollercoaster day, Young ended on a high.

“This moment is about all I can ask for,” Young said. “It’s a feeling I’ve been waiting for for a long time.”

Team USA’s other emotional putt came from Justin Thomas, who saved the par from 27 feet to win the 15th hole in a 2&1 win for him and Jordan Spieth over Im Sung-jae and Corey Conners.

It was the only hole won by both teams on the back nine and what could have been a level game was instead an American 2 lead.

“I was lucky, I really tried to use that moment,” Thomas said. “These switches are so important in match play.”

Max Homa, whose first PGA title came at Quail Hollow, and Tony Finau edged Taylor Pendrith and Mito Pereira 1-up when Pendrith missed a 10-foot putt at 18.

“It means a lot,” Homa said. “We are playing very well, we have worked hard. It is cool to finish the day 4-1.

“That’s what makes us feel alive. I felt very alive today.

‘Far from over’

Finau has made it clear that the Americans, with an 11-1-1 advantage in the all-time rivalry and 10 of the top 16 ranked players in the world, aren’t overconfident at all.

“This thing is far from over,” I said. “It’s a good start, but you know how these things can go. We’re happy with that start, but not complacent. We’re ready to come back after that.

USA’s biggest win came when Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay beat Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama 6&5 in the opening match – a triumph for the Americans over the more experienced international duo.

“There’s a real benefit to trying to get (points) on the board as early as possible,” Cantlay said. “It puts everyone a little more at ease and encourages them to follow suit.”

Cantlay and Schauffele won this year’s PGA Pairs event in New Orleans and improved to 5-0 in a foursome at the Ryder and Presidents Cup.

“We are very motivated,” said Schauffele. “We like playing together. We’ve done well in the format and we attribute that to our friendship and playing a lot and playing against each other a lot on normal weeks. There’s a kind of comfort level that we have when we compete together. .