DUBLIN, Ohio - With Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker spectacularly setting the tone in the first match, the United States dominated the early going in the opening fourballs at the Presidents Cup on Thursday.
Mahan and Snedeker made five birdies between them in the first five holes and were one up on Australian Jason Day and Canada's Graham DeLaet heading into the back nine on a muggy day at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Seeking to win the trophy for an eighth time, the U.S. also led in the five remaining matches to put the Internationals under intense pressure in the matchplay format they prefer, as they have traditionally struggled in the foursomes.
Internationals captain Nick Price felt he had gained a valuable concession with fourballs featuring in the opening Cup session for the first time since the 1996 edition of the biennial team competition, and had been hoping for a fast start.
But it was the Americans who came storming out of the gate after former U.S. President George W. Bush had greeted both teams before they teed off at the par-four first in front of packed grandstands.
U.S. captain Fred Couples, who was presented with a cake by the International team for his 54th birthday, watched in delight as each of his six fourball combinations took early control.
Bill Haas and Webb Simpson were two up on Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama after eight holes while Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley led by the same margin against South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, after seven.
Steve Stricker and 20-year-old rookie Jordan Spieth were one up on South African Ernie Els and Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge after six holes while Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar were one up on Argentina's Angel Cabrera and Australian Marc Leishman, after five.
In the bottom match, PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson birdied the first three holes between them and remained three up on South Africans Branden Grace and Richard Sterne after four holes.
The U.S. have dominated the Presidents Cup by winning seven times in nine editions, most recently with a 19-15 victory at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia two years ago.
The only success for the Internationals came in 1998 when the event was first staged in Melbourne. In 2003, the two teams battled to a 17-17 draw in South Africa. – Reuters