Singles sizzler on cards?

Clockwise from top left: International team captain Nick Price, K.J. Choi, Bae Sang Moon and Jason Daygather round the Presidents Cup as they get ready to pose for a group photo before the 2015 edition begins in Incheon today. The United States have
Clockwise from top left: International team captain Nick Price, K.J. Choi, Bae Sang Moon and Jason Daygather round the Presidents Cup as they get ready to pose for a group photo before the 2015 edition begins in Incheon today. The United States have won the past five showdowns.PHOTO: REUTERS

Any clash between world's top 2, Spieth and Day, will light up Presidents Cup

INCHEON • Americans and internationals mixing it up in the Presidents Cup has been a bad recipe for suspense. The Americans have won five in a row, with the closest margin of victory being three points.

But this edition , which begins today in Incheon, South Korea, could provide at least one match-up full of sizzle and uncertainty.

It is between the top players of the moment - No. 1 Jordan Spieth of the United States and No. 2 Jason Day of Australia.

WHAT A CRACKER

It would be a lot of fun playing against Jordan but, then again, I'm not too sure what the strategy is with that.

JASON DAY, on taking on Spieth

"We could probably make it happen. We'll just have to see," said Jay Haas, the US captain. "But, yes, I think it would be cool."

Spieth has won five tournaments this year, including the Masters and the US Open. Day has also won five events, including his first Major, the PGA Championship, where he got the better of Spieth in the final pairing in the last round.

They were also paired frequently down the final stretch of the PGA Tour season that has just concluded, with Spieth winning the FedExCup.

But a Presidents Cup showdown would add another dimension to this fast-emerging rivalry and also give this edition what it lacked in 2013. The captains did not match Tiger Woods, then No. 1, and Adam Scott, then No. 2, in singles.

"You look at the past greats of the game, Arnie and Jack, they were the first two who really kind of battled it out throughout the course of time," Haas said. "It's always nice to see the best players go at each other."

The Arnie and Jack in question - Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus - were American team-mates when it came to international play, however. Neither played in the Presidents Cup, which was not created until 1994.

But Nicklaus has played a major role as a four-time captain and as leader of the company that designed the two most recent courses used for the event - Muirfield Village in Ohio in 2013 and Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon this year.

He likes the idea of Spieth versus Day in the singles.

"I certainly have a history of doing that as a captain, going back to my first opportunity in 1998 when I paired Tiger against Greg Norman," he said. "When the Presidents Cup went to South Africa in 2003, I put Tiger against Ernie Els. In 2005 in Washington, we had Fred Couples against Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson against Angel Cabrera.

"Then in my last opportunity, in 2007, when we went to Canada, I was able to pair Tiger and the host country's hero, Mike Weir."

Day has expressed enthusiasm about facing Spieth in matchplay.

"It would be a lot of fun playing against Jordan but, then again, I'm not too sure what the strategy is with that."

Fans will have to wait till Sunday, when the 12 singles matches take place, to see if the dream match-up is realised. The biennial event opens today with foursomes and the duo will not meet.

Spieth and Dustin Johnson will play against Australian Marc Leishman and New Zealander Danny Lee in the anchor game of the opening five foursomes matches, where one ball is played by both players who hit alternate shots.

Spieth said yesterday he was excited at the prospect of partnering Johnson, one of the longest hitters in the game.

"He can bust it down the par fives and then I can kind of control some shots into those greens," he added.

Today's foursomes also see the Internationals' 2013 pairing of Scott and Hideki Matsuyama reunited to face Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes. South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace are up against Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed while Asian pair Anirban Lahiri and Thongchai Jaidee play Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker.

Australian duo Day and Steven Bowditch will take on Mickelson and Zach Johnson.

NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2015, with the headline 'Singles sizzler on cards?'. Print Edition | Subscribe