New York: A wildly fluctuating first day at the Presidents Cup ended with United States captain Fred Couples and his Internationals counterpart Greg Norman both happy with the outcome of the opening foursomes matches.
The American Cup holders, who had trailed early on in four of the six alternate-shot encounters at Harding Park Golf Course, recovered to lead overall by 3-½ points to 2-1/2.
The Internationals, looking likely to slip two behind late in the afternoon, snatched a vital half-point in the bottom match when American Justin Leonard missed a birdie putt from inside three feet on the 18th green.
Leonard and Jim Furyk had fought back from three down after five holes against South African Retief Goosen and South Korean Yang Yong-eun to go two up after 16 before squaring the match.
"From our perspective, we really were hoping to get out of the day with pretty close to a push, which was the case," Norman told reporters.
"When the pairings came out last night, I thought it would be a very, very close day and I think every one of the players from my side have held their head extremely high.”
"Would we like to be in the lead? Yes, we would be. But at the end of the day, the performance of my team was exceptional. We are not ecstatic about it, but we are happy."
Couples was also delighted with his team, especially Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker who stormed to a 6&4 victory over Australian Geoff Ogilvy and Japanese teenager Ryo Ishikawa 6&4.
"We are happy, too," Couples said. "Tiger (and Steve) were ahead early, which we were hoping for -- to be our leader of the day and turn things around.”
"But it was an up-and-down battle. I physically got tired of looking at the scoreboard because every time I thought the day could finish this way, a putt would be made and I thought we would have (only) 2-½ points.”
"For our guys, they are very excited and they had great matches," Couples added.
"Some play was tremendous and some was a little sloppy. Alternate shot is not a whole lot of fun, and I thought both teams performed very well."
Couples ruled out any hint of controversy in the bottom match where Leonard initially thought Goosen had conceded his short putt at the 18th before his attempt caught the right lip and spun away.
"No one has a problem with it," Couples said. "Did we think we were going to be up 4-2 up? Yes, we really did.”
"But it won`t be the last putt ever missed at the Presidents Cup and it won`t be the last time a little bit of a reversal was done. We`ll just come out tomorrow and try to get 3-½ more points against this team."