Matsuyama-Scott will face Schauffele-Cantlay in the first match of the Presidents Cup

Matsuyama-Scott will face Schauffele-Cantlay in the first match of the Presidents Cup

Americans Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, both ranked in the top five in the world, will face Masters winners Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott when the Presidents Cup kicks off on Thursday.

The pairings for the first five foursomes (alternate shot) matches were drawn Wednesday at Quail Hollow by Internationals captain Trevor Immelman and USA captain Davis Love.

“There were a lot of obvious couples and a lot of guys who really hit it off,” Love said. “The obvious ones made the others a little more difficult.”

Fifth-ranked Tokyo Olympic champion Schauffele and fourth-ranked 2021 PGA playoff winner Cantlay went 2-0 together in foursomes in last year’s Ryder Cup and the 2019 Presidents Cup.

“We’ve spent a lot of time together,” Cantlay said. “He’s very smart, he thinks things through. He’s a guy who leaves no stone unturned.”

“You get to know yourself really well when you’re in these team rooms and it’s essential,” Schauffele said. “He’s a direct guy.”

It’s a crucial start for Australia’s Scott, who is seeking a first victory in his 10th Cup appearance, and also Japan’s Matsuyama, the experienced world leaders hoping to inspire the best of a record eight fellow rookies.

“We probably need most of our guys to peak this week to really shake up Team America,” Scott said. “It’s a tough thing to do. They have to accept it and put it all out there on the golf course.”

The Americans hold an 11-1-1 lead in the rivalry with eight straight wins and have never lost at home to the non-European team.

While the Americans boast 12 of the world’s top 25 players and are heavy favourites, the international underdogs have adopted a nothing-to-lose attitude.

“We feel that our best golf is more than enough to not only be in contention but to win a lot of matches,” Australian Cameron Davis said.

“I don’t think any of us are thinking it’s going to be a rush in the other direction. We feel like it could be a surprise, which would be amazing.”

Thursday’s second match sends the American duo of two-time major winner Justin Thomas and three-time major winner Jordan Spieth against South Korea’s Im Sung-jae and Canada’s Corey Conners.

South Koreans Lee Kyoung-hoon and Kim Joo-hyung take on two-time Grand Slam winner Collin Morikawa and Cameron Young in the third match.

“They were lining up to play Cam Young,” Love said. “Collin had the experience. A very similar type pairing. You get a guy who drives it very long and very straight and a guy who is really stable, a great ball hitter.”

– ‘We are ready for battle’ –

Reigning Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and American newcomer Sam Burns take on Kim Si-woo and Davis in match four, while the latest matchup sees Americans Max Homa and Tony Finau take on Canadian Taylor Pendrith and the Chilean Mito Pereira.

“We’ve got some good pairings. I can’t wait to get started,” Pendrith said. “The 12 of us are ready to go. We are here and we are ready for battle.”

Friday features five four-ball (best ball) matches with four matches in each format on Saturday and 12 final singles matches on Sunday with 15.5 points needed to claim the trophy.

Kevin Kisner and Billy Horschel will not play on the first day for the Americans, while the internationals benched Colombian Sebastián Muñoz and South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

The Internationals lost several top players who jumped from the PGA Tour to the LIV Golf Series, making them ineligible for the Presidents Cup, including world number three Cam Smith, Australian British Open champion and Chilean Joachim Niemann.

Immelman hopes that the youngest international line-up in history can thrive thanks to the enthusiasm of so many newcomers.

“They’re so excited. Everything is new and fresh,” Immelman said. “It’s like Christmas morning when you can’t wait to open your presents.”

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