The Americans will start tomorrow’s foursomes here at Royal Melbourne trailing 4-1, the biggest day one deficit the US team has experienced in three decades of the President’s Cup.
Only Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas won for the US, with Tiger doing most of the damage around the greens, whereas the International team seemed more comfortable on the fast Bayside course, aided by strong winds throughout the day.
And if sentiment can be measured in the war cries from the corporate boxes and bleachers, the internationals will be playing with most of Australia behind them.
Here’s some other interesting observations from your trusty colleague here at my first President’s Cup:
1: You need steel cap boots if you want to get close to the action. The crowds here on day one are only matched by crowds at the Majors, it’s pretty much bedlam. Following the play on foot is impossible. You need to set yourself up near the landing zones well in advance of the players’ arrival.
Be prepared however for the pusher-innerers, the overly enthusiastic spectators who will happily invade that two-inch space you left in front of you by accident and think nothing about blocking your view and trampling your feet.
2: The ball ain’t spinning. If you are planning to come down here and watch the Americans pepper the pins with hard wedges and big spin, you’d be wrong. Royal Melbourne’s greens are slick for this event – with the ball checking and releasing every approach. It’s more like British Open golf now and that spells trouble for the US.
3: Great to see Geoff Ogilvy down here providing insights into Royal Melbourne as part of the International team. Ogilvy’s local knowledge at Royal Melbourne is second to none, and with the greens firm and fast he’ll know all the landing areas and misses to avoid. The two-time winner on the Australian PGA Tour knows Royal Melbourne, lives near the course with his young family, and his experience will be important for the Internationals still getting to know the layout.
4: The sledging is only just beginning. From suggestions that Patrick Reed “use your shovel”, to taunts about Dustin Gretzky and Louis Louis ‘you can ____ my wife’ – the galleries here at Royal Melbourne are already in full cry and it’s only Thursday.
Most of the humour is good-natured and the players are taking it well, but it’s very unusual to hear so much of it at an Australian golf event. It’ll only get better as the weekend approaches.
5: Royal Melbourne really is the prettiest little thang – the driving range matches the course with curling bunker lips and perfect greens. There’s incredible hedges lining the course thoroughfares, areas where you absolutely cannot go without Defcon 5 security clearance, and the biggest media centre I have witnessed in my 30-year career. This event is a big deal, with at least 100 journalists at the event covering it for international media.