Tiger Woods shook off a back injury to win the point that helped his U.S. team clinch a fifth straight victory in golf’s Presidents Cup.
Woods, the No. 1 player in the world golf ranking, beat Richard Sterne of South Africa by one hole yesterday to take the U.S. past the 17 1/2 points it needed for victory over a team of international players. The host nation, with Fred Couples as captain, won the biennial event by a score of 18 1/2 to 15 1/2 after holding a 14-8 lead going into yesterday’s 12 singles matches at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
“To have the opportunity to win the Cup for Freddie and all the guys on the team, it means a lot to me,” Woods said at a news conference. “To have trust in the guys and be able to go out there and earn a point, it means a lot.”
The U.S. has an 8-1-1 record in the matches, which began in 1994 against players from countries outside Europe.
Woods has now recorded the clinching point at three straight Presidents Cups, all with Couples as his captain.
“It makes me look great to be involved in this, but you know, this is the third time I’ve had All-Star teams every single time,” Couples said.
Play was suspended two days ago because of darkness with four foursome matches -- in which teammates alternate hitting shots with the same ball -- still on the course. Those matches concluded yesterday, with the tee off times for the singles brought forward because of a threat of rain.
Jason Day got the first point of the day with a 6-and-4 demolition of Brandt Snedeker, meaning the Australian led by six holes with four left to play.
Hunter Mahan then defeated Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama 3-and-2 and Jason Dufner beat Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe 4-and-3 to make the match score 16-9 to the U.S.
Moments after Graham DeLaet of Canada defeated Jordan Spieth by one hole, Zach Johnson won 4-and-2 against South African Branden Grace to leave the U.S. needing another half point for victory. Adam Scott of Australia made it 17-11 with a 2-and-1 victory against Bill Haas and Ernie Els of South Africa cut the deficit to five points with a one-hole victory over Steve Stricker.
Marc Leishman from Australia kept the match alive with a one-hole win against Matt Kuchar before Woods gave his team an insurmountable 18-14 lead with the final two matches still on the course. Woods, who said he hurt his back while playing the 14th hole, took the lead for good when Sterne made a bogey at the par-3 16th hole.
“It went out on me at 14 and from then on, it just kept getting worse,” Woods said about his back injury. “But, I got a point for our team so that’s all that matters. We played a lot of holes and a lot of start, stopping the last couple days, so a lot of guys on our team are dinged up.”
Webb Simpson halved his match against Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Angel Cabrera of Argentina won the final two holes against Phil Mickelson to pull out a 1-up victory after the title had been decided.