Presidents Cup Day 1: U.S. can't hold Tiger Woods' early lead

The Presidents Cup is underway at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia, and after one day, it’s clear this won’t be a total U.S. blowout ... at least, not immediately. The United States team, captained by Tiger Woods, started hot, but the International team, led by Ernie Els, rallied to capture the next four points and take a 4-1 lead into the tournament’s second day. If anyone on the United States team was taking this match lightly, they aren’t anymore.

Tiger strikes first

Paired with Justin Thomas against Joaquin Niemann and Marc Leishman, Tiger Woods put the first American point on the board. Woods and Thomas started fast and never surrendered, a sprint highlighted by this “Go get that!” moment on No. 5:

Woods and Thomas would go on to win 4&3, staking the U.S. to a 1-0 lead. It wouldn’t hold up.

Local hero makes good

Adam Scott made a few headlines when he implored Australian fans to root for the home team. He backed up his words with strong play as he and Byeong Hun An knocked off Bryson Dechambeau and Tony Finau, 2&1. Scott looked as plugged-in and electric as he has in years, reeling off shots like this all afternoon:

Internationals come up big

Abraham Ancer and Louis Oosthuizen drew first blood for the Internationals, walloping Gary Woodland and Dustin Johnson 4&3. Adam Hadwin and Sungjae Im knocked off Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, 1up. In the day’s final match, Hideki Matsuyama and C.T. Pan edged Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson on the final putts of the final hole, 1up.

How big was this day for the Internationals? Last time around, in 2017, the Internationals won only 3 1/2 team matches in the entire opening three days. This is the International team’s first opening-day lead since 2005, and largest win in a team session since 2007. Long way to go, but this is as comfortable as the International team has been in a long time.

Phil Mickelson, flag lover

Woods didn’t pick Phil Mickelson as one of his vice captains, and if you want to see conspiracy in that, well, we wouldn’t stop you. But Phil’s not going to let a chance to strut get past him, even if he’s on the other side of the planet. Behold, Phil’s patriotic onesie:

Yeah ... try getting that image out of your head.

The Presidents Cup continues Thursday night (American time) with foursomes. Television coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on the Golf Channel. Join us, won’t you?

Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas got out to an early lead. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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