Spi­eth, Dustin John­son part­ners in Pres­i­dents Cup af­ter bat­tle in US

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY DOUG FER­GU­SON

Jor­dan Spi­eth and Dustin John­son bat­tled at Cham­bers Bay in the U.S. Open. They will be part­ners in South Korea at the Pres­i­dents Cup.

U.S. cap­tain Jay Haas saved Spi­eth and John­son for the an­chor match of four­somes Thurs­day when the Pres­i­dents Cup be­gins at the Jack Nick­laus Golf Club Korea. They will face Marc Leish­man of Aus­tralia and Danny Lee of New Zealand.

Lee was born in Seoul be­fore mov­ing as a child. He will be the only Korean-born player to com­pete in the open­ing ses­sion, the first Pres­i­dents Cup held in Asia. Sang­moon Bae, who is re­turn­ing home and will be­gin his 21-month manda­tory mil­i­tary ser­vice af­ter the matches, was held out be­cause his part­ner, Charl Schwartzel, is still weak from a virus.

Spi­eth won the U.S. Open by one shot when John­son three-putted from 12 feet on the fi­nal hole.

Haas said they asked to play to­gether in the Pres­i­dents Cup, and it was an easy choice for the cap­tain.

“They have been want­ing this pair­ing,” Haas said. “And what Jor­dan wants, Jor­dan gets right now. So that was our think­ing there.”

Spi­eth has dom­i­nated golf this year with two ma­jors vic­to­ries, three other PGA Tour wins, a sweep of all the ma­jor awards and the No. 1 rank­ing. He had a suc­cess­ful part­ner­ship with Pa­trick Reed in the Ry­der Cup last year by go­ing 2-0-1. Reed is play­ing with Matt Kuchar on Thurs­day against Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace of South Africa.

The last time John­son was in a team event, the 2012 Ry­der Cup, he and Kuchar won both their matches to­gether at Me­d­i­nah. Haas said a Reed-Spi­eth pair­ing is pos­si­ble later in the week.

“Matt is pretty easy to be with,” Haas said. “Pa­trick loves the match play as­pect of it and cer­tainly wants Jor­dan at some time dur­ing the course of the matches. But again, we wanted to get Jor­dan what he wanted here early on, and maybe that can hap­pen down the road.” In other open­ing matches: — Adam Scott and Hideki Mat­suyama, who went 1-2-1 in all four matches at Muir­field Vil­lage two years ago, will lead off against Bubba Wat­son and J.B. Holmes.

— Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler, 0-1-3 in their part­ner­ship at the Ry­der Cup last year, face Anir­ban Lahiri and Thongchai Jaidee.

— Jason Day and Steven Bowditch put Aussie pride on the line against Phil Mick­el­son and Zach John­son.

The for­mat has changed this year to elim­i­nate four matches, mean­ing each team had to sit two play­ers in the open­ing ses­sion for the first time since 2000. Haas sat out his son, Bill Haas, and Chris Kirk. In­ter­na­tional cap­tain Nick Price’s de­ci­sion was eas­ier be­cause of Schwartzel, who was in bed Wed­nes­day morn­ing dur­ing the fi­nal day of prac­tice.

Asked by the Korean media why he left out Bae, Price said he didn’t want to break up any teams.

He also stayed away from Day and Spi­eth be­ing in the same match, even in a team for­mat. Spi­eth and Day are Nos. 1 and 2 in the world and both won five times this year.

“I’m not go­ing to put matchups just be­cause what the media wants, OK? And what the world wants,” Price said. “I’m go­ing to put matchups there that I feel is best for our team. That’s the most im­por­tant thing. And I don’t think it would be fair to the rest of the team for me to sin­gle out one per­son and say, ‘That’s who I’m go­ing to play against that per­son.’”

The United States leads the se­ries, 8-1-1, with its only loss com­ing in 1998 at Aus­tralia.

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