‘We’re going to keep fighting’: Internationals refuse to back down after early beatdown
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Just before 6 p.m., as the towering 1st-tee build cast a long shadow across the 18th green, the International team let out a roar. Scottie Scheffler had just missed long par putt and the Internationals had their first point of the day, courtesy of Si Woo Kim and Cam Davis.
The cheer served as a cathartic release for the 12 men — and their families — sent to fight for the Presidents Cup. Unfortunately for them, it was the only time all day they had reason to celebrate.
After day 1 of the 14th Presidents Cup, Team USA has opened up a commanding 4-1 lead. On a muggy Carolina afternoon when sweltering heat pushed temps into the mid 90s, the Yanks asserted their dominance over their foreign counterparts and muscled their way to a three-point lead.
Despite the day 1 beatdown, captain Trevor Immelman refused to back down.
“We’re going to keep fighting,” Immelman said. “It’s what we do. It’s the type of mentality that this team has.”
That never-say-die spirit is going to be needed. A come-from-behind win is never easy, and especially so for a team filled with rookies.
“I’ve been doing this enough, it can go either way,” U.S. captain Davis Love III said. “There’s a long way to go.”
On one hand, Love is right — there is a long way to go. We’re only five points into a 30-point Cup, and that is more than enough time to erase a three-point deficit. The optimist will tell you that the scrappy International bunch are still in this and that three down is hardly the time to panic.
The realists prognosis isn’t quite so rosy.
The 4-1 score doesn’t give proper context for what a tough day it was for Immelman’s bunch. While they face a three-point deficit, the play of the Internationals did little to inspire confidence. They led after just three holes the entire day, and were it not for a back-nine meltdown by Scheffler and Sam Burns, it could’ve been a clean sweep. The entire day, the scoreboard was bathed in red.
“If we got white washed today, it would have been a tough pill to swallow,” Immelman said.
A 4-1 beatdown still seemed tough to swallow. After Corey Conners and Sungjae Im lost on the 17th green, the sweet-swinging Canadian sat alongside his International counterparts and stared into the abyss. He and Im combined for three back-nine bogeys, and the missed opportunities seemed to be replaying in his mind.
When Taylor Pendrith pushed his par putt on the final green to give the Americans the final point of the day, the rookie removed his cap and ran his fingers through his hair. The pro-American crowd let out a roar. It dwarfed the cheer from just 15 minutes earlier that the Internationals had mustered up. Just like that, momentum swung back to the Americans.
Still, Immelman refused to exude anything but positivity. As an underdog in hostile territory, hope might be the only thing he’s got.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” he said. “We’ll keep going, man. We’ll keep going until they ring the bell.”