Woods and Thomas win first point for USA

Tiger Woods has given the United States the first point in the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.
Tiger Woods has given the United States the first point in the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.

Tiger Woods has struck the first big blow at the Presidents Cup, securing Team USA the opening point in Thursday's fourballs at Royal Melbourne.

In an ominous start, Woods reeled off seven birdies in 14 holes while teaming with Justin Thomas for a commanding four and three victory over Marc Leishman and Joaquin Niemann.

But while the US nabbed the first point of the 2019 cup, the Internationals were otherwise well placed to claim first-day hours.

The Internationals were leading three other matches on the back nine and all tied up in the other.

Woods, though, was the man on Thursday.

The US's rockstar playing captain made a gimme birdie on the first hole before also winning the second after making the only par in the group despite hitting a wayward tee shot and having to lay up with his approach.

A brilliant birdie from Leishman on the par-3 third reduced the US's lead to one up before Thomas won the fourth with his first birdie of the day.

Woods sent the crowd into raptures when he chipped in for another birdie on the fifth, then demanded Thomas retrieve his ball from the cup as the US went three up.

After a nervy start, Niemann, making his Presidents Cup debut, came to life to win two holes only for Woods and Thomas to take the ninth to regain control heading to the back nine.

Further birdies for Woods on 11, 14 and 15 were enough to seal the deal for the US.

But Abraham Ancer and an inspired Louis Oosthuizen were poised to square the ledger for the Internationals with a win over Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland.

Ancer and Oosthuizen, with three birdies in four holes early, were three up with seven to play.

Adam Scott and Byeong Hun An were also in control, two up on Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau through 12 holes.

And with Hideki Matsuyama and CT Pan one up on Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson after 12 holes, the Internationals were enjoying a 3-1 lead in live scoring.

Adam Hadwin and Sungae Im were all square with Xander Shauffele and Patrick Cantlay with four holes left in their match.

The Internationals have lost the past seven Presidents Cup and last won the trophy in 1998 at Royal Melbourne.

But they have never lost a fourball session in four previously at Royal Melbourne in 1998 and 2011.

Australian Associated Press