A Ryder Cup broke out at this year’s Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne in Australia where the United States won their eighth consecutive edition of this event, 16-14. That’s the highest praise I can give to a team competition that hasn’t exactly been rife with thrills and chills in its history.
This year, though, we got it all. All the drama (on and off the course) to go along with elite golf, an unbelievably close competition and a handful of iconic Presidents Cup moments, including the Americans becoming the first team in event history to come from behind and win on the final day of competition.
I guess I could say I saw this coming since my prediction coming into the week was the U.S. winning 16-14, but I didn’t see this coming. Notor Tiger Woods going 3-0-0 as a playing captain or Matt Kuchar (!) sinking the winning putt.
There’s a lot to unpack from the week, but for now, let’s walk back through how the U.S. notched eight points in the 12 singles matches to make up a two-point deficit on the final day.
We start where we always start: Tiger Woods.
Captain Big Cat led himself off against Abraham Ancer, who a month ago said he wanted to play Tiger in a singles match. He may have regretted that decision when Tiger went 1UP on the second hole, never trailed and then (literally) walked him off with a putt on the 16th to win 3&2.
Woods said he knew the match was over when the putt was 6 feet out. This is what you get when you ask to play Tiger Woods in singles.
That was just one of the 7.5 points the U.S. team needed for the victory, though. Soon after Woods’ win, the antagonist of the week, Patrick Reed, put away C.T. Pan 4&2. Reed blazed out to a 6UP lead through seven holes but nearly gave it all back coming home (which would have been unreal). Instead, he moved to 4-1 in Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup singles matches. All of this after his caddie (and brother-in-law) Kessler Karain wasfollowing an altercation with a fan at Royal Melbourne. So there was drama there, but there was also drama elsewhere.
The Americans started racking up point after point, jumping way out in front, but the Internationals tied it up late. At 11.5-11.5 with one match tied and three each leaning in the teams’ respective directions, it looked as if a tie was a real possibility.
When Webb Simpson defeated Ben An 2&1 on the 17th hole to get the U.S. to 15-12, the Americans knew they couldn’t lose. But with the three remaining matches still in the balance, they also knew they had to still go earn the win.
Matt Kuchar, of all people (!), ended the fight with a stiff approach on No. 17 and sank a birdie to go 1UP over Louis Oosthuizen. They went to the 18th, which Oosthuizen won, but it didn’t matter because the U.S. got the half point it needed and added another half point later on when Rickie Fowler tied Marc Leishman.
Joy flowed from the U.S. camp.
“We did it together,” said captain Tiger Woods, who went undefeated as a player this week and set a career Presidents Cup win record with 27. “We came here as a team. My teammates and my boys all played well. The captains did an amazing job of just being there for every little detail. I couldn’t have done it without all their help.
“All my boys. They did it.”
Woods, it seems, has figured out at a much older age because of his very strange life that all the achievement in the world means little if you don’t have a good community to share it with. These are his people.
“I trust all my 11 guys,” he said. “I trust them implicitly. I told them that from the very get-go. They went out there and got the points we needed. We fought. Even the points we lost, we were making them earn every one of them. This cup wasn’t going to be given to us. We had to earn it. And we did.”
They did. After trailing after each of the first three days when they hadn’t trailed after a single day in 14 years, they showed real fight on Sunday in the singles to go out and close. The Americans went 11-5 over the final two sessions, including 8-4 on Sunday.
“What a thrill,” said Kuchar after his clincher. “To play for the greatest ever, arguably, and to have him as a playing captain, just so cool. Watching him go out and still be just the best player on the golf course.
“All of us, we just did not want to let him down. We were so excited to make the team. No way did we want to let Tiger Woods down. To be able to come back the way we did was such a thrill.”
This Presidents Cup will go down as probably the best of all time so it’s fitting that the best player of all time is at its epicenter. Tiger the player was brilliant. Tiger the captain was moving and effective.
It’s 2019. Tiger will be 44 in a few weeks, and he still stands right in the center of everything that matters in golf. This week was a tremendous reminder of that and the perfect springboard into 2020.
Sources from: CBS Sports