By Steve Keating
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Reuters) -Former Masters champions Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama will lead an inexperienced International team into battle after they were paired together on Wednesday for the Presidents Cup’s opening foursome against the United States partnership of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele.
With a record eight Presidents Cup debutants on his squad, International captain Trevor Immelman will be counting on his two most battle-tested players, Australian Scott and Japan’s Matsuyama, to provide a steady launch at Quail Hollow Club on Thursday against the heavily favoured Americans.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said the 42-year-old Scott, who has played 44 Presidents Cup matches, second only to Phil Mickelson’s 55.
“I don’t know how many more of these I’ll play, so I’m kind of embracing every opportunity, whether it’s good, bad, indifferent, or difficult.”
Scott, playing in his 10th Presidents Cup and Matsuyama, his fifth, will face a well oiled U.S. pair in world number four Cantlay and number five Schauffele, who teamed up to win the Zurich Classic in New Orleans in April and played all their matches together at the 2019 Presidents Cup.
Schauffele and Cantlay are 4-0-0 in foursomes, or alternate shot format, across the 2019 Presidents Cup and 2021 Ryder Cup events.
“Our style of play is very similar,” explained Schauffele. “Throw it to the fat part of the greens, try to take advantage of par-fives, low stress.”
The second match out will see U.S. captain Davis Love III pit multiple major winners Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, who grew up playing junior golf together, against South Korea’s Im Sung-jae and Canadian Corey Conners.
Two South Korean Presidents Cup rookies 20-year-old dynamo Tom Kim, the youngest player in this year’s competition, and K.H. Lee take on the U.S. duo of Cameron Young and Collin Morikawa.
The fourth match out will feature close friends world number one and Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns, three-times a winner on the PGA Tour this season, going against South Korea’s Kim Si-woo and Australia’s Cam Davis.
The final match of Day One will pit Tony Finau and Max Homa up against two more Presidents Cup newcomers in Canada’s Taylor Pendrith and Chile’s Mito Pereira.
“There was a lot of obvious pairings, and there was a lot of guys that really get along well,” said Love.
“So the obvious ones made the other ones a little bit harder because everyone does get along well, and there’s not really anybody that you say, well, that guy’s hard to pair.
“It’s just hard to pick two to sit out. That’s our problem.”
Colombia’s Sebastian Munoz and South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout will sit out the opening session for the Internationals while Billy Horschel and Kevin Kisner watch from the sidelines for the Americans.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Charlotte. Editing by Toby Davis)