Tiger clinches Presidents Cup for U.S.
Melbourne, Australia – Dublin, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Tiger Woods secured the winning point for the third straight Presidents Cup with a 1-up win in his singles match Sunday.
Woods' win gave the United States 18 points and the Americans went on to defeat the Internationals 18 1/2 to 15 1/2 at Muirfield Village.
The Internationals won six of the first nine matches to get within 17-14. Woods, whose back started acting up on the 15th, 2-putted for par on 16 to go 1-up on Richard Sterne. The duo matched 2-putt pars on 17.
At the 18th, Sterne's long birdie try came up short. Woods rolled his 35- footer to tap-in range and was conceded the putt and the match, as well as the Cup for the Americans.
"I was at a point where I wasn't feeling my best coming down the stretch and happened to get a 1-up lead. I was just trying to hang on to that," Woods said. "The opportunity to win the Cup for (U.S. captain Fred Couples) and the team, it means a lot to me."
Woods previously clinched the Presidents Cup in 2009 against Y.E. Yang and in 2011 against Aaron Baddeley.
The Americans needed 3 1/2 points in the singles to retain the trophy. It was their fifth straight win and they moved to 6-0-1 in the last seven.
"I must've asked 500 times, How are we getting this fourth point? Where is the fourth point coming from?" said Couples. "You're nervous, not for the players, but we knew we needed 18 points and we got them. I think it was a very, very good match today and the matches were all close. It was nice when Tiger 2- putted that last green."
Jason Day trounced Brandt Snedeker 6 & 4 to put the first point on the board in the singles matches for the Internationals. American Hunter Mahan then took down Hideki Matsuyama 3 & 2 in the lead match. In the fifth match, Jason Dufner cruised to a 4 & 3 win over Brendon de Jonge to give the U.S. 16 points.
Graham DeLaet holed a bunker shot to beat American Jordan Spieth 1-up. Zach Johnson was conceded a 4 & 2 win after Branden Grace found water off the 16th tee, and that got the Americans within a half-point of winning the cup.
Ernie Els fought off Steve Stricker 1-up and Adam Scott closed out Bill Haas 2 & 1 to keep the International team alive. Marc Leishman rolled in a 13-footer to save par and fend off American Matt Kuchar 1-up.
In a battle of former major champions, Charl Schwartzel bested American Keegan Bradley 2 & 1.
That made it 17-14 and Woods closed it out by beating Sterne.
Webb Simpson conceded a halve to the International team's Louis Oosthuizen in the penultimate match and Angel Cabrera beat Phil Mickelson 1-up to set the final margin.
"I did my pairings this morning to win the cup. not to put one or two together, or three or five or whatever," said International captain Nick Price. "The whole idea was to put the best strategy forward to win this cup. You get six of what you want and six of what the other captain wants, which makes it very difficult. It's hard to hide what your intentions are when you have to do that."
Day won four of the first six holes against Snedeker, but the American fought back with wins at seven and nine. Snedeker 3-putted the 10th to fall 3-down. The Australian Day closed out the match with three straight wins from the 12th. Day ended the week with a 3-1-1 record.
Mahan and Matsuyama traded wins from the third to the sixth. Mahan, who won the sixth with a birdie, followed with three wins in the next four holes to go 3-up. They traded wins at 11 and 12, than again at 14 and 15 before matching pars on the 16th gave Mahan the point.
Dufner won the first with a birdie. He later birdied the eighth and 10th to move 3-up. De Jonge took the par-5 11th with a par, but Dufner birdied the 13th to go 3-up again. De Jonge pulled his tee shot into the trees on No. 15 and conceded the match.
DeLaet, who chipped in to halve his foursomes match earlier Sunday, holed a bunker shot for birdie on 18 to beat Spieth 1-up. The pair had traded wins three times from the ninth to 15th. Spieth found water at 16 and DeLaet took that hole to move 1-up before sealing the match at the last.
Johnson won three of five holes between the third and seventh. Grace fought back with birdies on nine and 11 to get within 1-down, but Johnson birdied the 12th and Grace bogeyed the 13th to fall 3-down. Grace's tee ball on the 16th found water and he conceded the match.
Els and Stricker battled throughout as 10 of the first 13 holes were won by one of the two players. Stricker took the first with a par, but Els won three of four from the third. Stricker came back with wins at eight and nine to square the match.
The pair traded wins over the next four holes. Els poured in a 25-footer for birdie on 16 to take the lead, and they halved the next two holes to give Els the match.
"I said to some of the guys earlier, if you had to count the number of birdies in this Presidents Cup compared to other ones, I feel this one had a lot more birdies in it. The level of play was outstanding," said Els.
Scott and Haas traded wins at five and six. Scott jumped ahead with birdies at eight and 10. Haas trimmed his deficit to 1-down as he birdied the 15th to move 2-up and after a pair of halves the point went to the Internationals.
Kuchar grabbed an early lead, but Leishman battled back with birdies at eight, 12 and 13 to go 1-up. They swapped wins at 14 and 15, then parred the last three holes to give Leishman the point.
Bradley lost the first, but came back to win eight and 10. He traded wins at 11 and 12 with Schwartzel before the South African took a 2-up lead with three consecutive wins from the 14th. Bradley and Schwartzel both made short birdie efforts at 17 as Schwartzel closed out the match.
"It was a tough day for all of us. It had a scenario brewing much like the Ryder Cup last year, you know, coming down to the end," Stricker said. "I think we can all take positives from this going forward."
The Internationals were within three points with three matches to go, but Woods closed out Sterne to give the Americans the Cup.
"I was fairly relaxed. I was actually enjoying the match. We played pretty well, but neither of us made any putts," Sterne said of his match with Woods. "Obviously, No. 16 was a turning point in our match."
Simpson birdied the 11th to again move 2-up. Oosthuizen claimed the 14th with a par and Simpson conceded the match on No. 18 as the matches were over.
Cabrera and Mickelson battled through the 18th green. Mickelson stumbled to a bogey and conceded Cabrera's par at the last to set the final score.
NOTES: Couples said in a televised interview that this will be his last Presidents Cup as a captain.