Leading Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri suffered a disappointing defeat at his Presidents Cup debut as the United States romped to a commanding 4-1 lead against the International Team on the opening day here on Thursday. Lahiri, partnering Thongchai Jaidee, lost four and five in a foursome match against Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker at the par-72 Jack Nicklaus Golf Club.
With Fowler rolling in three birdies in the opening four holes to go three up early on, Lahiri and Thongchai found themselves on the backfoot for much of their match which reflected how the day went for the Internationals. Outside of the lone International match win — a three and two decision by Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace over Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed — captain Nick Price’s team did not lead after a single hole in any of the four matches.
Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes led off with a three and two win over Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama. The Americans won the second hole and never trailed after that. Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson, in the final match of the day, beat Marc Leishman and Danny Lee four and three & 3, despite some struggles by Johnson off the tee. Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson finished up the day in the final match to conclude, beating Jason Day and Steven Bowditch two up. It’s the fifth consecutive Presidents Cup that the US has won the opening session.
“Both Thongchai and I were nowhere close to our best. We both struggled, and I think we just lost momentum. There were opportunities that I could have made a few more putts definitely, and then I think on the back nine we just let it all get away from us really quick,” current Asian Tour number one Lahiri said in a release. “He (Fowler) putted great all day. If I’m not mistaken, he must have made about six or seven one-putts, and none of them were inside of 10 feet. It helps when you’re playing match play.” Lahiri did not offer excuses for his disappointing debut in the biennial contest. “When you play badly, you want to assume as much responsibility for it. I’m sure Thongchai feels the same way. It’s one of those days,” he said. “The first hole, we had an opportunity (to win) but didn’t take it. Second, I didn’t make it and third we went from a position of strength and suddenly we found ourselves three down through four. Yeah, I think I let one get away from me on seven, the par-five. That was an important putt because we could have gotten some momentum back. But, yeah, very disappointed to finish the way we did.
“We didn’t make a single birdie in 14 holes, and we hit 13 fairways. I mean, we only missed one fairway on 10 and did not make a birdie. So that tells you that we didn’t putt well, and that’s what you need.” Lahiri will lead the cheering squad on Friday after Price opted to rest him from Friday’s four-ball session. The 28-year-old believes the Presidents Cup, which has been dominated by the US who has won eight of 10 editions, is far from over. “It’s a long ways to go. It’s not an ideal start. You don’t want to find yourself chasing, but now that we are in that position, we’re going to chase it down,” he said. On Wednesday night, Lahiri, the first Indian to play in the Presidents Cup, stood proudly alongside his teammates and the US Team, and enjoyed the pleasure of hearing his national anthem being played during the opening ceremony.