Playing Captain Tiger Woods showed the way in the first singles match on the final day of the 13th Presidents Cup and the rest of his United States Team followed.
Woods won his match and the Americans came from behind by claiming eight of the 12 points available to record a 16-14 victory at Royal Melbourne Golf Club https://www.royalmelbourne.com.au/cms in Melbourne, Australia.
The U.S. increased their domination in the Presidents Cup to 11-1-1, beating the Internationals for the eighth straight time since a 17-17 tie in 2003 at Fancourt Hotel and Country Club in George, South Africa.
The Internationals claimed their only victory, 20½-11½, in 1998 at Royal Melbourne.
“We did it together,” said Woods, who started the day with a 3-and-2 victory over Abraham Ancer of Mexico and went 3-0 for the week. “We came here as a team to keep the Cup and my boys all played well and got it done. I trusted all 11 of my guys. My assistant captains (Fred Couples, Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson) all did a great job, too.
“ … I went off first because I have the experience and I have been the leadoff hitter before. I was well rested because I didn’t play yesterday, and I played well. I love playing with teammates and we couldn’t have had a better group of guys. And it was a special experience being the playing Captain.”
The Americans trailed throughout the first three days after the Internationals opened a 4-1 lead in foursomes play on the first day, but the Americans chipped away and got to within 10-8 entering singles on the final day.
The U.S. was heavily favored with Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Woods, Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego in the top 10 of the World Golf Rankings, while No. 18 Adam Scott of Australia is the highest-ranked player in the International Team.
But the Americans didn’t clinch their victory until No. 34 Matt Kuchar, the lowest-ranked player on the team, sank a five-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to take a 1-up lead over Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa.
It didn’t matter that Oosthuizen won the final hole to halve that match.
“It was such a thrill to make that putt, I was jumping out of my skin,” said Kooch, who skipped his way to the final tee after high-fiving several teammates who were watching from the edge of the green. “Seeing everybody standing there on 17, I knew exactly what it meant.
“I was 3-down after three holes and just kept grinding, kept at it. I was an honor that Tiger put me in a position late to help win it. What a thrill to play for him, the best player on the course. I didn’t want to let him down and it was great to come back like that.”
Patrick Reed gave the Americans some early momentum with a 4-and-2 victory over C.T. Pan of Taiwan and Johnson downed Haotong Li of China, 4 and 3.
Cantlay defeated Joaquin Niemann of Chile, 3 and 2, while Schauffele downed Scott in a huge match, 2 and 1, and Webb Simpson turned back Byeong Hun An of South Korea, 2 and 1.
Tony Finau rallied from 4-down to halve his match with Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis finished even with Adam Hadwin of Canada, and in the final match of the day, Rickie Fowler of Murrieta halved with Marc Leishman of Australia.
The only International victories came when Sungjae Im of South Korea defeated Gary Woodland, 4 and 3, and Cameron Smith of Australia beat Justin Thomas, 2 and 1.
“The first matches of the day were big and they didn’t go our way (0-3-1),” said International Captain Ernie Els, who played three epic playoff holes against Woods before darkness ended that 2003 Presidents Cup in a tie.
“They got some momentum, but we were right there and things just didn’t go our way. We were ahead the first three days, but their rally at the end of the second session on the first day was a big key. In the end, that might have been the difference.
“We made a great effort all week, but just came up short.”
The Internationals’ next chance to break their losing streak will come in 2021 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C.
For complete results visit, https://www.presidentscup.com/leaderboard.html