Amid government shutdown, Presidents Cup begins and U.S. leads

Story highlights

  • After the opening day of the Presidents Cup, the U.S. leads 3.5 to 2.5 in Ohio
  • Thunderstorms temporarily halted play during Thursday's fourballs at Muirfield Village
  • The U.S. team features six of the world's top 10, including No. 1 Tiger Woods
  • The International Team has only won once since the competition started in 1994

Some of the president's men are still working. In golf's Presidents Cup, that is.

And while U.S. President Barack Obama wasn't in attendance in Ohio -- he has more important things to worry about -- a former president, George W. Bush, greeted both teams Thursday at the Muirfield Village Golf Club.

The biennial competition, which pits the U.S. against the rest of the world minus Europe, has been kinder to the Americans than the more prestigious Ryder Cup.

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Indeed since the tournament started in 1994, only once has the International Team prevailed, and the U.S. has won four in a row.

The U.S. featured six players in the top 10 in the rankings, including world No. 1 and PGA Player of the Year Tiger Woods. The International Team, by contrast, had one -- Masters champion Adam Scott.

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Early indications suggested the U.S.'s superiority in the rankings would translate to an easy victory -- they led all six fourballs in the early stages.

    But after about a 90-minute delay because of thunderstorms, the International Team fought back.

    By day's end, it was 3.5 to 2.5 for the U.S., a slender advantage.

    Jason Day's dramatic putt at the 18th gave the Australian and Graham DeLaet a win over Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker after Woods and Matt Kuchar routed Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman 5 and 4.

    "It's awfully fun partnering the No. 1 player in the world," Kuchar said in a televised interview.

    The U.S. fell behind as Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley lost to Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel 2 and 1 before Scott and Hideki Matsuyama halved with Bill Haas and Webb Simpson.

    Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson eased past Branden Grace and Richard Sterne 5 and 3 to level the match.

    In the decider, Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth edged Ernie Els and Brendon de Jonge.

    Stricker's short putt at the 18th gave the U.S. the lead heading into Friday's foursomes.