Thursday Foursome Preview
All times Pacific Standard Time
Match One (10:05 a.m.)
Justin Thomas/Rickie Fowler (USA) vs. Charl Schwartzel/Hideki Matsuyama (INT)
A lot has been made over the years of the comradery of the European team in the Ryder Cup. Well here in the Presidents Cup, it’s the United States that carries that buddy aspect to their team.
There is no better example than this opening pair of Thomas and Fowler. They are good friends on and off the course, which I believe makes a big difference in this event. The two will be relaxed and comfortable in their match.
That being said, a strong case could be made for Matsuyama as being the top player in the world. Schwartzel is very laid back and is the perfect complement to his partner.
Prediction: United States wins it 3 and 2 to take a 1-0 lead.
Match Two (10:17 a.m.)
Matt Kuchar/Dustin Johnson (USA) vs. Jhonattan Vegas/Adam Scott (INT)
Love this match. A complete contrast in the United States team, but a contrast in a good way. Johnson is the bomber and Kuchar the shot-maker. But Kuchar can go deep and Johnson has a silky-smooth touch around the green. I think this is most likely match for the United States to win as Vegas and Scott, while obviously talented, have not been as consistent as the American duo.
If Johnson is finding the fairways off the team, this one could be over early.
Prediction: United States wins 5 and 4!
Match Three (10:29 a.m.)
Patrick Reed/Jordan Spieth (USA) vs. Emiliano Grillo/Si Woo Kim (INT)
Another great pairing for the United States. Reed’s team play abilities are well documented after he went head-to-head with Rory McIlroy in the Ryder Cup matches last year.
He seems to thrive on this type of competition and will bring his fiery demeanor to the course. Spieth on the surface seems to bring a sense of calm to this team, but don’t get fooled. He’s an emotional competitor and while he may be calming in one respect, he’ll be feeding off Reed’s fire.
I can hear the USA, USA chants already!
Prediction: United States wins 3 and 2.
Match Four (10:41 a.m.)
Daniel Berger/Brooks Koepka vs. Branden Grace/Louis Oosthuizen
A match that scares me for the local side. Berger is unsung at this point, but a big weekend here and he will be a household name in the golfing community (think Reed from the Ryder Cup).
Koepka has come into the spotlight this year with his incredible run through the majors. His win in the U.S. Open cemented his spot among the elite in the world, and along with his finish in the Masters (T11), British Open (T6) and the PGA (T13) has shown no stage is too big.
Grace went 5-0 two years ago in the event in Korea, including four wins when partnered with Oosthuizen. He fired an 8-under 62 in The Open this year, the lowest round ever recorded in a major championship. Despite his accomplishments, he still flies under the radar behind players like Scott and Day. That makes him dangerous.
Oosthuizen have only won once in the last two years, but in his previous two Presidents Cup appearances he has a winning record at 5-3-2, not an easy thing for the International team
Prediction: Internationals win 2 and 1.
Match 5 (10:53 a.m.)
Phil Mickelson/Kevin Kisner (USA) vs. Marc Leishman/Jason Day (INT)
Without a doubt, the most crucial match for the International team on the first day.
On paper, this is a match they should be heavily favored in. Leishman is playing as well as well as anyone on the team and is a fierce competitor. Teamed with fellow Aussie Day, this duo should collect a point here.
That is unless Mickelson turns the clock back and brings the magic only he is capable of. Immensely popular in the New Jersey/New York area, is Mickelson get going early, the crowd will be raucous.
Kisner has made a name for himself towards the end of last season and throughout this season. It is his first Presidents Cup so nerves may be a factor, but it is a brilliant teaming with the calming Mickelson and going out last will allow him to get into the flow of the event emotionally.
Prediction: International 4 and 3. This ends the first day with the United States holding a 3-2 lead!
By Dennis Miller