Spieth, Johnson paired for Presidents Cup
Incheon, October 7
Danny Lee and Marc Leishman received the golfing equivalent of a ‘hospital pass’ on Wednesday after the International duo were served up to America’s world No 1 Jordan Spieth and big-hitting Dustin Johnson for the Presidents Cup foursomes.
Thursday’s opening foursomes, where players hit alternate shots with the same ball, also sees the Internationals’ 2013 pairing of Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama reunited to face Bubba Watson and JB Holmes. South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace are up against Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed and Asian pair Anirban Lahiri and Thongchai Jaidee play Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker. Australian duo Jason Day and Steven Bowditch will take on Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson.
The Presidents Cup, which is played for every two years by the US and a team of international players minus Europeans, continues on Friday, Saturday with foursome and four ball fixtures before 12 singles matches on Sunday. The United States have been the dominant force in the Cup, winning eight of the 10 previous editions with one tie. Their only defeat came in 1998 at Royal Melbourne.
After US captain Jay Haas and his International counterpart Nick Price decided the matchups, it was the pairing of Spieth and Johnson that had the media buzzing at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea. Spieth, a captain’s pick two years ago, has blossomed into the world’s best player this year, claiming two majors among his five wins and ending the year with a flourish with victory at Tour Championship last month.
Dustin Johnson returned to the Tour after taking time off in 2014 for personal reasons and had three top 10 finishes in majors, including a heartbreaking near miss at the US Open when a missed three-foot putt handed the title to Spieth.
Haas confirmed the pair had asked to be put together and shed some light on Spieth’s huge influence on the game. “Jordan and Dustin, they have been wanting this for a while, wanting this pairing. And what Jordan wants, Jordan gets right now,” said Haas.
Spieth, however, rejected the suggestion he had picked his playing partner. “I didn’t pick DJ. I think Jay may have been joking earlier when I heard the quote that ‘whatever Jordan wants, he gets’, said Spieth.
Spieth said he hoped his partnership with Johnson would extend throughout the event. “I think everybody wants to play with DJ. He’s a fantastic player. He has as much talent as anybody in the game,” he said.
Their opponents on Thursday, Lee and Leishman, have their work cut out for them. Lee is ranked 36th in the world and has made the cut only once at a major, while Leishman, a spot below in the rankings, came close at the British Open this year, finishing tied for second behind Zach Johnson.
Lee, who was born in Korea but moved to New
Zealand as a youngster, did not seem overly worried about playing in his first Presidents Cup with the world’s best player on the opposite team.