The first round of the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf was a challenging test of golf at Kingston Heath Golf Club as the professionals combined to represent their countries in the foursomes format.
Finding the secret to success was the Spanish team of Rafa Cabrera Bello and Jon Rahm, who made an eagle, two birdies and a lone bogey for a three under par 69 in the alternate shot format.
Cabera-Bello's ball seemed to defy the laws of gravity by dropping into the hole for birdie at the 18th, setting the seal on a satisfying opening day for the duo.
"That was a fun putt because when I was seeing it, it looked like I couldn't miss and then all of a sudden it could really miss and I don't know how it came back," said Cabera Bello.
"It's been a good day. I think we played well. It was obviously tough and tricky with the wind. But Jon played great, I rolled some putts and hit some good shots as well, so I think it was a score we're proud of but also a score we deserve."
Cabrera-Bello has not missed a cut all season on the European Tour in 2016, but is still searching for a first win while Rahm is just starting out in his professional career after leaving the amateur ranks following the US Open this summer.
Spain are the fourth most successful country in World Cup history with four wins, but are searching for their first victory since 1984.
Meanwhile, childhood friends Victor Dubuisson and Romain Langasque enjoyed their first round playing together as Team France.
"We are very good friends and for us to play together here, it's like a dream from back when we were children. So I'm very happy with our score today because it was really tough," said Dubuisson.
China's Wu Ashun and Li Haotong had fun on day one knocking in improbable birdies late in the opening foursomes and celebrating wildly with chest bumps.
Wu delighted the large galleries at Kingston Heath with his heroics and exuberance after holing lengthy putts on 16 and 18 to help the team sign for two under par 70.
"It was very good and my partner was playing very well and we made a lot of birdies, so it was very exciting to play," said Wu, who is a two-time European Tour champion.
"We made I think the best putt [on the last hole]. It was just unbelievable. Li was giving me some ideas on the breaks and talked about speed, it was very fast this afternoon and the winds were blowing too. So we talked a little bit on the line and he said just take it easy, just relax and putt and it goes in. It's unbelievable."
On Thanksgiving Day, when a majority of Americans spend time cooking, eating, watching football and taking time to be thankful, Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker were thankful for each other as partners after both pointed to key shots made by the other as part of their two under par opening round.
"I'm thankful to have a stud partner," said Walker, the 2016 U.S. PGA Championship winner. "Rickie putted really well and made some clutch putts beginning of the round. Putting really saved us today."
While Fowler and Walker have been friends off the course for quite awhile, they have also developed good chemistry on the course having partnered for this year's victorious U.S. Ryder Cup Team. Playing foursomes is not a format that the best players in the world put into competition often, so to have that experience was important for the U.S. World Cup Team.
"I think we got everything out of it I think we could have," Walker said. "Rickie hit it great, hit some good shots. It was an all-around effort."
"It wasn't playing easy out there. You know, we're going to miss shots in alternate shot, it's just the way it is," Fowler said.
"I think we did a good job picking each other up when needed. Jimmy hit some great shots, drove the ball well and made some putts when he needed to."
At one under the card the English team of Chris Wood and Andy Sullivan share fifth place alongside the Italian duo of Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero.
A shot further back are Team Sweden, represented by Alex Noren and David Lingmerth; Team Denmark, made up of Søren Kjeldsen and Thorbjørn Olesen; and Team Ireland, represented by Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell.
Shooting a two over 74 to be tied for 14th after the first round was not the way Team Australia had hoped to start their ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf title defence.
Adam Scott and Marc Leishman struggled to find momentum in the challenging conditions.
"Obviously it's a little disappointing. They were tough conditions and definitely not what we wanted for the first round," said Leishman.
Scott added: "I think it was just the wind. It's very tough to gauge exactly what's going on out there when it's blustery.
"We had no momentum today but in these conditions, it's about as hard as it gets playing foursomes in blustery conditions around a tricky course."
The second round of the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf, which will be played in the fourball format, gets underway at 8.28am, with the last group due out on course at 11.30am.
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Griffin's Order of Merit opportunities
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