INCHEON (REUTERS) - Jack Nicklaus predicted superior putting would be the key at this year's Presidents Cup and so it proved on Thursday as the United States' prowess on the greens helped them to a 4-1 lead over the Internationals after the opening day's foursomes.
The American big guns fired straight and true - Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson finished off Danny Lee and Marc Leishman 4&3, while Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker crushed Asian duo Thongchai Jaidee and Anirban Lahiri 5&4.
Australia's world No. 2 Jason Day and partner Steven Bowditch went down swinging, losing to Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson on the final hole (2 Down), while Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama fluffed putt after putt against Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes to lose 3&2.
The only bright spot for the Internationals was the South African pairing of Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen, who defeated Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed 3&2 to put a touch of blue on a red-hued scoreboard.
Internationals skipper Nick Price said his team were down but not out. "I'm certainly not despondent about the whole thing. We are not in the situation we'd like to be after the first round, but there's an awful lot of golf to play," he said.
"And to be honest, I think this team is going to bounce back a lot quicker than maybe any of the other teams we've had."
After winning just one of the 10 previous Presidents Cups the Internationals were thought to have their best chance in years in Korea, the first Asian country to host the event, after the PGA Tour agreed to reduce the points on offer to 30 from 34.
However, that format change and home advantage seemed to do little to inspire the International team, who found themselves trailing in every match by the second hole.