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US takes small lead after first day at Presidents Cup

By Kyle Porter | Golf Writer

Tiger Woods might have been the best player on the US Team on Thursday. (USATSI)
Tiger Woods might have been the best player on the US Team on Thursday. (USATSI)

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Well, it could have been worse for the International Team.

Nick Price's squad was getting torched for most of the first half of Thursday's four-ball matches at Muirfield Village but squeezed out a few matches at the end and only trails by one point (3.5 to 2.5) after the first day.

A mid-afternoon rain delay seemed to infuse them with some life, though and they proceeded to come back with some clutch wins at the very end.

Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar led the charge for the Americans by beating Angel Cabrera and Marc Leishman 5 and 4 -- they celebrated every hole won Fresh Prince-style with this high five:

Then Kuchar explained it after their match:

Woods and Kuchar never trailed, combining for seven birdies compared with just one for Cabrera and Leishman.

Woods was unusually candid after their victory.

"We ham and egged it pretty good," he said, referencing their ability to alternate birdies all day and give the US Team its first points of the week.

Here's a look at the rest of the matches:

Jason Day and Graham DeLaet defeat Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker 1UP -- Mahan and Snedeker really gave this one away at the end a little bit. They got out to an early three-up lead but only made one birdie in the final 12 holes. Day stuck the dagger in them on No. 18 with this birdie:

Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama halve match with Webb Simpson and Bill Haas -- Maybe the best match of the day. The four golfers combined for seven birdies on the back nine capped by an insane Matsuyama iron on No. 18 to a foot away for a birdie and halved match.

Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen defeat Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley 2UP -- Bradley and Mickelson couldn't conjure up any of that Ryder Cup magic they had in 2012.

The pairing could only muster three total birdies on the day and Mickelson couldn't stop hitting it in the water. Not a large win from the International Team but a fairly stress-free one.

Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson defeat Richard Sterne and Branden Grace 5 and 3 -- This one was ugly for the International Team. The US side never trailed and Jason Dufner said the same thing Woods did after his win with Johnson.

"We ham and egged them," said Dufner.

Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth defeat Ernie Els and Brendon de Jonge 1UP -- Spieth lost his mind after the rain delay, making multiple 20-foot and 30-foot putts to win and tie holes. But he needed Stricker to close the match out on the last hole with a great par and big point for the US Team.

De Jonge really carried his pairing as Els didn't make a birdie until No. 17 which is usually not the formula you want in a match play event.

So the US leads 3.5 to 2.5 after day one -- that has to be considered a slight win for the International side considering where they were at nearly halfway into the day, down in every match.

It's good news for the US Team as well, though. As Randall Mell pointed out the first day is usually a harbinger of things to come at the Presidents Cup.

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnGolf and @KylePorterCBS on Twitter or Google+ and like us on Facebook.

 
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