JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (Reuters) - International Team captain Nick Price will field his big guns early on Thursday in an effort to avoid falling behind on the first day of the Presidents Cup.
The U.S. has led after the opening session in the past five Cups, a deficit the Internationals have not been able to overcome.
Japanese world number three Hideki Matsuyama, the highest ranked player on the International side, will team up with South African Charl Schwartzel against Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler in the first match at Liberty National.
U.S. captain Steve Stricker was spoiled for choice with his five pairings from the powerful American team for Thursday’s foursomes. He decided to leave out Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell.
Price, who does not have as much strength in depth, left out Canadian Adam Hadwin and Indian Anirban Lahiri.
Price pulled one surprise by pairing rookies Kim Si-woo and Emiliano Grillo for the third match. They will play Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.
“Si-woo and Emiliano are two incredibly talented young players,” Price said.
“They played really well in the practice round. To me that’s an obvious choice. If you look at these five matches, I think there’s going to be some doozies there tomorrow.”
The International Team won only one point on day one of the 2015 Presidents Cup, falling three points behind. They either won or drew the other four sessions, but the damage had already been done.
If history is repeats itself, it could be a miserable Thursday for the visitors.
Schwartzel has an 0-4-1 record in foursomes, while Jason Day, who will play with fellow Australian Marc Leishman in the final match, is 0-4-2 in the alternate shot format.
Veteran Adam Scott, who will partner Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas in the second match, has been similarly unimpressive at 4-8-1.
Price, however, remains optimistic.
“We have been on the back foot for the longest time in the alternate shot or foursomes, so I’m hoping that we’re going to change that tomorrow,” he said.
Stricker, for his part, sounded almost serene as he ran his eye over the names of his thoroughbreds.
“We’re comfortable with what we’ve got going,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of time to think about this and get the players into these groups that they want to play with, so there was no late-changing plans today.”
Price said his team had a lot of power. “This 18-hole match play is anybody’s game,” he said. “It’s all about momentum, team spirit, and who gets off to a good start.”
Order of play for five foursomes matches on first day of Presidents Cup between United States and International team at Liberty National on Thursday (U.S. named first):
1.05 p.m. ET (1705 GMT)- Rickie Fowler/Justin Thomas v Hideki Matsuyama/Charl Schwartzel
1.17 p.m. ET (1717 GMT) - Dustin Johnson/Matt Kuchar v Adam Scott/Jhonattan Vegas
1.29 p.m. ET (1729 GMT) - Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed v Kim Si-woo/Emiliano Grillo
1.41 p.m. ET (1741 GMT) - Brooks Koepka/Daniel Berger v Louis Oosthuizen/Branden Grace
1.53 p.m. ET (1753 GMT) - Kevin Kisner/Phil Mickelson v Jason Day/Marc Leishman
Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Toby Davis