PGA Tour

US grab early initiative

The Presidents Cup (Getty Images)
The Presidents Cup (Getty Images)

Columbus - International golfers had hoped to change their momentum on Thursday as play resumed at the Presidents Cup after a storm delay of nearly 90 minutes with the United States in firm command.

The Americans, celebrating the 54th birthday of US captain Fred Couples, led five matches and were all square in the other four-ball pairing at Muirfield Village on the first day of the biennial battle with the non-European side.

The US team leads the rivalry 7-1-1. The Internationals, losers of four in a row, have not led after any session since the second day in 2005 and led only once before Thursday's storm, when Canada's Graham DeLaet birdied the first hole of the opening match.

"They played some great holes at the start," Internationals captain Nick Price said. "We've got to come back now."

World number one Tiger Woods, a 14-time major champion and US PGA Player of the Year, and Matt Kuchar, this year's World Golf Championships Match Play winner, were 2-up through six holes over Argentina's Angel Cabrera, a two-time major winner, and 61st-ranked Australian Marc Leishman.

Woods is a five-time winner at the Memorial, the US tour event played at Muirfield Village, while Kuchar is the reigning Memorial champion.

Kuchar birdied to win the first hole and Woods dropped an eight-foot birdie putt to win the sixth to give the US duo a 2-up edge.

South Africans Branden Grace and Richard Sterne were 4-down after six holes in their Presidents Cup debut against 2007 Masters winner Zach Johnson and 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner.

The oldest and youngest US players, 46-year-old Steve Stricker and 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, led 2-up after seven over South African Ernie Els, a five-time major winner, and Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge.

Stricker won the first with a birdie but the Africans won the second hole with a par. Stricker responded by winning the third with a five-foot birdie and the seventh with a birdie after Els missed a four-foot birdie putt.

Hunter Mahan and 2012 PGA playoff winner Brandt Snedeker led 1-up through 10 over Australia's Jason Day and DeLaet.

DeLaet birdied from 12 feet but Mahan birdied the second to square the match, Snedeker followed with a birdie at three and Mahan birdied the fourth to put the US duo 2-up.

Snedker sank the fifth US birdie in a row from 25 feet to win the sixth for a 3-up edge, but Day answered with a birdie to capture the par-5 seventh and a par 3 to take the eighth.

World number two Adam Scott, who last April became the first Aussie to win the Masters, and 21-year-old Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama were 1-down after nine to 2012 US Open winner Webb Simpson and 2011 PGA playoff champion Bill Haas.

Simpson opened with a seven-foot birdie to give the American duo the edge and matched birdies with Scott to halve the third and fourth holes. The Aussie birdied the par-5 fifth and seventh to halve as well. Haas birdied to win the par-3 eighth but Scott won the ninth with a birdie.

South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, both major winners, were square after nine with five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, the reigning British Open champion who is the only player to compete in every Presidents Cup, and Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner.

Mickelson birdied to win the first hole, then Schwartzel birdied to win the second and Mickelson answered with a three-foot birdie at the par-3 fourth.

Bradley eagled to win the par-5 seventh for a 2-up lead, but Oosthuizen answered with a 20-foot birdie to win the par-3 eighth and Schwartzel birdied the ninth to level the match.

It takes 17 1/2 points to win the Cup with the four-ball matches followed by six alternate-shot foursomes Friday, five four-ball and five foursomes matches Saturday and 12 concluding Sunday singles.

Here are the latest scores in Thursday's Four-ball from Muirfield Village before the players walked off (holes played denoted in brackets):

Mahan/Snedeker 1UP (10) Day/DeLaet
Haas/Simpson 1UP (9) Scott/Matsuyama
Mickelson/Bradley All Square (9) Oosthuizen/Schwartzel
Stricker/Spieth 2UP THRU (7) Els/de Jonge
Kuchar/Woods 2UP (6) Cabrera/Leishman
Johnson/Dufner 4UP (6) Grace/Sterne

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