The Americans led 4-2 after a dramatic opening day when the glassy greens at Royal Melbourne made life very difficult, particularly for those unfamiliar with the sandbelt. But the big talking point was the match pitting Scott and Choi against Americans Woods and Steve Stricker – who had won all four of their pairs encounters together at the 2009 Presidents Cup. It was all over by the 12th green, with the 7 and 6 victory by Scott and Choi the equal biggest in Cup history.
“It felt great to get a point in the first match under the belt,” said Scott, who has willingly taken on a leadership role in Greg Norman’s International team.
“It’s a very big deal for me, as it is for the other Aussies. I was very nervous going out there but I played great, as did KJ.”
For former world No.1 Woods, it was his worst ever loss at a Presidents Cup, coming in the foursomes format he has traditionally dominated.
Woods and Stricker were the only one of the 12 pairings not to win a single hole on Thursday, although their heavy loss was more than offset by their 10 teammates, who won three of the other five matches and halved the remaining two.
The best half-point came from Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar, who won the last two holes of their clash with Australian young guns Aaron Baddeley and Jason Day. Baddeley was particularly disappointed at missing a par putt on the 17th hole and then badly mis-hitting his drive on the 18th.
Another of the five Australians in Greg Norman’s lineup, Geoff Ogilvy, paired with South African Charl Schwartzel to share the honours with Bill Haas and Nick Watney in a match where the Americans never held the outright lead. The US were convincing winners of the other three clashes.
Phil Mickelson became the all-time record Presidents Cup points scorer with 21 after combining with Jim Furyk for a 4 and 3 win over South African Retief Goosen and Australian Robert Allenby – one of Greg Norman’s two captain’s picks.
The clash involving Scott and Woods was always going to take centre stage, not least because it was the first on-course meeting between the American great and Steve Williams since the sacked caddy’s disparaging remarks about his former boss became public.
That turned out to be pretty much a non-event, with the huge galleries more focused on Woods’ travails, the great golf by Scott and Choi and the appearance of the Australian’s partner, glamorous Serbian tennis star Ana Ivanovic.
Woods had no excuses for his first loss in his last seven matches in a Presidents Cup pairing.
“They got off to a quick start and we couldn’t keep up,” said the 14-time major winner.
“We kept falling on the wrong side of the greens all day. It’s such a hard course that you just can’t do that.”
US captain Fred Couples has split the Woods-Stricker pairing for Friday’s fourballs, when the weather is expected to take a turn for the worse.
“Tiger and Steve did not play well today, Adam and KJ were much better,” said Couples. “But in the long run we have four points and some of our young guys played extremely well.”