The U.S. secured golf’s Presidents Cup for the fourth straight time as Tiger Woods won the clinching point for the second edition in a row.
Woods beat Australia’s Aaron Baddeley to give the U.S. an unassailable 18-14 lead in the 34-match contest after the Americans led the International squad 13-9 going into today’s singles matchups at Royal Melbourne. The final score was 19-15.
“It does feel good,” Woods, who was one of U.S. captain Fred Couples’s two discretionary picks in his 12-man squad, said in a televised interview. “I was hoping it wouldn’t come down to my point. We didn’t get off to a good start early.”
Former World No. 1 Woods also got the clinching point when the U.S. posted a 19 1/2-14 1/2 triumph in San Francisco two years ago. The Americans have now won seven of the nine editions of the biennial event, which was created by the U.S. PGA Tour in 1994 to give foreign players not eligible for the Ryder Cup a chance to compete against the U.S.
Needing to win five points on the final day of singles competition to retain the trophy, the U.S. won six of the 12 matches. Greg Norman’s International team made a last-day charge by winning the first four matches, though couldn’t carry the momentum through to the closing matchups.
The four-point final margin was the closest finish since the U.S. won by three points in 2005.
“I was very nervous,” Couples, who also captained the U.S. in 2009, said in a televised interview. “I didn’t really think Royal Melbourne was on our side today but the guys closed it off.”
Norman said his 12-man squad had “put a little bit of fear into the Americans,” though had given itself too much to do after taking just three points on the opening three days from the 11 foursomes matches, where two players from each team play alternate shots with the same ball.
“That’s what really put us behind the 8-ball,” Norman said. “We never really recovered.”
After the Internationals took the first four singles matches, Hunter Mahan and Nick Watney steadied the U.S. with wins over Australia’s Jason Day and K.J. Choi of South Korea, respectively. David Toms put the U.S. up 16-12 and Jim Furyk beat South Africa’s Ernie Els 4-and-3 to finish unbeaten and ensure the Americans of at least a tie.
Furyk won all five of his matches to become only the fourth player in Presidents Cup history to finish with a 5-0 record after Mark O’Meara in 1996, Shigeki Maruyama in 1998 and Woods two years ago.
“I didn’t expect to play as well as I did,” said Furyk, who didn’t win a tournament on the U.S. PGA Tour in 2011. “I struggled this year.”
Furyk’s victory gave Woods the chance to get the cup-clinching point. The 14-time major champion, on a two-year winless run, put a bunker shot to within a foot of the pin on the 15th hole and Baddeley was unable to make his shot to extend the match to the 16th.
Woods, who was 5-under-par through 15 holes after making six birdies, was the best performed of the four captain’s picks with two points from his five matches.
“For Tiger to get the winning point again makes us as a team feel very, very good,” Couples said. “When I picked Tiger a month and a half early, there was a reason for it. Today, I heard that he played like the Tiger of old.”
The next Presidents Cup is scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2013, at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. The International team’s only victory was at Royal Melbourne in 1998, while the 2003 edition was tied.