DUBLIN, Ohio — Zach Johnson and his playing partner Jason Dufner delivered the point that they needed on day one of the Presidents Cup in Dublin, Ohio.
The duo won their four-ball matchup against South Africans Richard Sterne and Branden Grace 5&3 meaning that they were five holes up with only three to play.
Johnson won four of the holes on his own ball and had five total birdies to pair with the stoic Jason Dufner’s four outright birdies.
After feeling under the weather earlier this week with a stomach flu Thursday proved the truest test to Johnson’s energy levels.
“I was a little concerned coming into it this morning,” Johnson said of Thursday’s match. “My legs you know, I played 18 holes yesterday and just trying to get the feelings back and kind of get some energy.”
In a team event with so much time spent together and in the US team rooms Johnson knew that finding energy this week would only by a matter of time.
“I think adrenaline and energy is not a hard thing to find in this event,” Johnson said. “So come the first tee, I felt once I hit my tee shot down the fairway on one, I felt great.”
He found the fairway on one and on nine of twelve driving holes on Thursday as he and Dufner wrapped up the match on the 15th hole.
Dufner’s prowess with his irons and wedges kept Sterne and Grace from gaining ground on the par-3’s when Johnson made two bogeys on the 4th and 8th.
Playing less holes than the full eighteen was something that Johnson appreciated.
“Having him on my side and just playing fourteen and a half, fifteen holes isn’t going to hurt me come the rest of the week,” Johnson said.
Indeed American captain Fred Couples liked what he saw from Dufner and Johnson enough that he has them paired together again as the last match of Friday against a formidable twosome in Masters winner Adam Scott and Japanese phenom Hideki Matsuyama.
The overall day was unique as of the six matches, five were led by the American side when a mid-afternoon rain-delay halted play.
It all resumed again at 3 PM central time and the International squad made a solid charge to close the gap and end the first day down 3 1/2 to 2 1/2.
Other American teams that won on Thursday were the Matt Kuchar and Tiger Woods group, who thrashed Presidents Cup rookie Marc Leishman and veteran Angel Cabrera.
Twenty-year-old Jordan Spieth and forty-six-year-old Steve Stricker won as well.
On Friday the matches begin at 1:10 pm ET.