Golf: Anirban Lahiri and Thongchai Jaidee fall, as Americans rise

Indo-Thai pair go down tamely to Fowler-Walker as USA take 4-1 lead on Day One

Incheon (Korea): The Americans may not have a handle on the Ryder Cup, but they sure have a stranglehold on the Presidents Cup. Pumping fists, shaking hands and smiling all around, they cantered to a 4-1 lead at the end of the first day of the competition they have not lost to the Internationals since 1998. In fact that was the only time the International team, comprising players from all nations outside the US and Europe, won and they tied once in 2003. The Americans have won the Ryder Cup only once in last 16 years — in 2008.

India’s Anirban Lahiri tees off in Incheon yesterday. PIC/AFP
India’s Anirban Lahiri tees off in Incheon yesterday. Pic/AFP

Huge crowds
The opening day of the first-ever Presidents Cup in Asia may not have produced golf of the highest order, but the golf-loving public of Korea lapped it up, as virtually each of the five matches were followed by huge crowds all around.

In a team filled with five rookies, it was the rookie combination of the rising Indian star, Anirban Lahiri and Thai legend, Thongchai Jaidee, who gave the Americans their first point as an in-form Rickie Fowler, wielding a sizzling hot putter, nailed each putt that came his way and combined with the highly consistent Jimmy Walker to win by the biggest margin of the day
at 5&4.

Thongchai Jaidee
Thongchai Jaidee

Barring one loss, that of Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar to South Africans, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace, the Americans won all other matches handily. Perhaps, other than the most avidly followed Jordan Spieth-Dustin Johnson pairing which effortlessly took out almost unheralded Danny Lee and Marc Leishman 4&3, it was the combination of veteran Phil Mickelson, who has played each Presidents Cup competition since inception in 1994, and Zach Johnson, the reigning Open champion, that attracted a lot of attention.

From the moment, Lahiri and Thongchai, lost the first match 5&4 to Fowler and Walker, the Internationals were always on the back foot. In the other matches, Bubba Watson and JB Holmes beat Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama 3&2, while Spieth and Dustin Johnson rode over Danny Lee and Marc Leishman 3&2.

For the Internationals, Grace and Oosthuizen won 3&2 over Kuchar and Reed.

Lahiri admitted not putting well. “We didn’t make a single birdie in 14 holes, and we hit 13 fairways. I mean, we only missed one fairway on 10 and we hit every fairway apart from that, but did not make a birdie. So that tells you that we didn't putt well, and that's what you need.”

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