Up for grabs... The Presidents Cup is biennial match play event pitting 12 top American golfers against 12 golfers from the rest of the world outside of Europe since its inception in 1994. Image Credit: Supplied


It could have been worse. But a stirring fightback from Cam Davis and Si Woo Kim gave Trevor Immelman’s International Team something to smile about other than the South American feast awaiting them after the opening round of the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow.

International rookie Davis and former PLAYERS champion Kim stunningly fought back from 3-down against world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns in opening round Foursomes to post a lone point on the board for their squad. The stacked U.S. side stormed to a 4-1 lead in the quest for 15.5 points but the late rally steeled the visiting team.

“I’m just so proud of those guys. Cam has been chomping at the bit for the longest period of time,” Immelman said. “We really feel like he's come out of his shell quite a lot in and amongst the team atmosphere and environment in the last three or four weeks, and it's been great to see that growth from him.

“He has an extremely high ceiling and a ton of potential. That's why I picked him. And we know Si Woo's ceiling. He's won at the highest level. But for them to finish strong like that to eke out a point for us really is big psychologically.”

It could have been even closer, as the Internationals were 1-down on the back nine in four of the day’s five matches, but Kim and Davis were the only pair able to score a point.

It was a result no one really saw coming. Already extreme underdogs against a pairing that featured the PGA TOUR Player of the Year and a combined seven wins last season, the International duo were left steaming when 3-down through seven holes.

Davis had just dumped an approach shot into water on the par-5 seventh hole but it was that mistake that brought with it a moment of clarity. As did his teammates mood.

“He was pissed,” Davis explained of Kim. “I was playing a little nervous. Not so much scared, just a little nervous golf. And when I hit the ball in the water on 7, I was like, that's the last time I'm trying to hit a smooth shot when I'm nervous. That finally clicked in my head. Right, we've just got to play aggressive. We've got to hit it hard. If you're stuck between clubs, go the shorter one.”

As they walked to the eighth, a 321-yard drivable par 4, Davis was ready to belt his driver but with some caddie assistance, and his new clarity, he pulled 3-wood and promptly drove the green to 15 feet.

“I ripped that one. Pretty much from that point on, I'm like, right, I have a game plan. I'm going to stick to this,” Davis said. “My best swings are when I do this. So the water ball actually kind of sparked a little bit more fire in me.”

At the time, the leaderboards around Quail Hollow were covered in red as the U.S. led in all five matches. But when Scheffler and Burns found trouble on the difficult par-4 15th it set the tone for an International blitzkrieg.

Kim holed a critical 10-foot birdie putt on 16 to tie the match then Davis hit a sublime wedge to three-feet on the 17th to make it three holes won in a row. A clutch lag putt on the 18th green from Davis put up an improbable 2-up win.

It lit a match under their teammates who not much earlier had very little to smile about. The group came together as a unit behind the 18th green, quickly pointing out what can be achieved if they continue to believe.

“Everyone kind of saw where we were. Everyone is super pumped. (It showed) we can do this, you know. There's no reason why we can't keep playing that type of golf,” Davis added. “Everyone on our team is capable of the golf we played coming down the stretch. If we can all bring it out at the same time this week, we can really get things going.”

Immelman was under no illusions as to what they’d need to provide over the next three rounds but reminded all that the U.S. Team actually trailed 4-1 after the opening round in the last Presidents Cup before coming back to win. It’s not without precedent.

“If we got whitewashed today, it would have been a tough pill to swallow. We've got our work cut out for us, but we'll keep going, man. We'll keep going until they ring the bell,” Immelman said. “We have no other choice. We're going to keep fighting. It's what we do. It's the type of mentality that this team has. Nobody here expects us to win. We've got to have that belief deep down. Go out there and fight.”