MELBOURNE, Australia – The Americans returned Down Under and this time wound up on top in the Presidents Cup.
Jim Furyk became the fourth player to win all five of his matches, and the bottom half of the lineup was strong enough Sunday to give the Americans their fourth straight win in this lopsided series.
Perhaps it was only fitting that Tiger Woods clinched the cup for the second straight time.
U.S. captain Fred Couples was criticized for using a pick on Woods, who had been out with an injury most of the summer and had not won since his personal life crumbled two years ago. Woods played well all week, even if he didn’t always get rewarded with a point. In his singles match against Aaron Baddeley, he was never seriously challenged.
Woods closed out Baddeley, 4 and 3, and the celebration was on. The only left was for Steve Stricker in the anchor match to beat Y.E. Yang for the final score, 19-15.
“I was hoping it wasn’t going to come down to us,” Woods said. I was hoping that Stricks and I could take a victory lap back here. But we didn’t get off to a good start early. I was telling Joey (LaCava) on the range, ‘It’s probably going to come down to the last four matches.’ We needed to get our point, so we went out there and played really well today and put a lot of heat on Badds.”
Couples said Woods was ready to go all week at Royal Melbourne.
“He was ready for a month,” Couples said. “Certainly, I couldn’t answer how he was going to play, but this week I think he showed to himself that his swing is back and he’s healthy, and that’s more important to me. Obviously, we want to win the cup, but’s more important for me to have people realize that he can play the game.”
He can celebrate, too.
Woods took his turn in joining in the Fanatics, the Aussie group that goes to big sporting events. Woods even donned one of their green caps and slapped hands in the crowd.
It was a small measure of revenge for the Americans, whose only lost came at Royal Melbourne in 1998. And it was vindication for Couples, who said a month early that he was taking Woods because he was the “best player forever.”
International captain Greg Norman got in on the debate, saying he would have taken PGA champion Keegan Bradley over Woods.
“He stepped up to the plate. He putted extremely well,” Norman said. “Any player hates to see another great player struggle, because we all know what it’s like to go through the ins and outs of the game. At the end of the day, you want to see the player who has dominated the game come back.”
As for Couples’ taking Woods over Bradley?
“I did make those comments,” Norman said. “I probably still would have gone for Keegan Bradley because he’s a major champion.”
The International team’s only win came 13 years ago at Royal Melbourne, when the Americans suffered their biggest loss in any team competition. There was no repeat this time, not even close.
The Americans led after each session, and their 13-9 lead going into the final session Sunday was too much for the International team to overcome, even with a loud and boisterous Australian crowd behind it.
Ryo Ishikawa, Charl Schwartzel, K.T. Kim and Geoff Ogilvy got the International side going. But the outcome was never seriously in doubt. Furyk, David Toms and Woods were at the bottom of the lineup, and none ever trailed.
Toms routed Robert Allenby, 7 and 5, giving the Australian a dubious distinction. He joined John Huston as the only captain’s picks to not win a single point.
Furyk, coming off his worst season since he was a PGA Tour rookie, joined Woods, Shigeki Maruyama and Mark O’Meara as the only players to record a 5-0 record in the Presidents Cup. Furyk made an eagle on the par-5 second and beat Ernie Els 4 and 3.
“I felt better about my game than what I’ve been playing this year, and I kind of want to thank my partners,” said Furyk, who won three matches with Phil Mickelson and another with Nick Watney.
Mickelson, 3-0 going into singles, conceded the first three holes to Adam Scott and conceded another hole at the eighth to fall 4 down. He rallied far too late and lost, 2 and 1.
Couples wasn’t planning on Furyk winning all his matches. Then again, nothing ever surprises him.
“We needed it. He was a leader,” Couples said. “He and Phil told me, which was very odd — I wasn’t planning on it on Tuesday night — that they wanted to play together. And they rode and rode and rode. Jimmy going 5-0 is great. It’s cool. It’s unique. It’s fun. And I think he’s happy, as the rest of the 14 guys are.”
Not so happy was an International team that can’t figure out how to win.
“It’s disappointing to not get the cup this year, but to have this event here at home, it has been a fantastic week and one I’ll remember for my whole career,” Scott said. “We played hard. I think it’s just a really demanding golf course. No matter how good you are, on this course it’s just too hard to hit the ball well to get it around here. And they might have done it just a little bit better than us this week.”
– Associated Press
With all the debate about the captain’s pick of Tiger Woods, it seems only appropriate that he should be the one to close out the Presidents Cup, which he does at the par-5 15th. After leaving his second shot in the bunker, Tiger played a brilliant shot, leaving his ball inside 2 feet for a conceded birdie.
Aaron Baddeley is unable to hole his shot for eagle from behind the green and it’s a 4-and-3 win for Tiger.
WOODS DEF. BADDELEY, 4 AND 3
• • •
Tiger Woods isn’t able to get up and down from the back bunker, but Aaron Baddeley converts a long two putt to win the par-3 14th. The U.S. needs just one point and it will likely be Tiger, who is 4 up with four to play.
• • •
Jim Furyk, after one of his worst seasons on Tour, finishes off a 5-0 week at Royal Melbourne by closing out Ernie Els at the 15th.
FURYK DEF. ELS, 4 AND 3
A valiant effort from Phil, but his rally comes to an end at the 17th, where Adam Scott knocks in a par.
SCOTT DEF. MICKELSON, 2 AND 1
• • •
Mickelson is trying his darnedest to stay in this match – he holes another birdie at the 16th hole to go just 2 down with two to play. Remember, he conceded his first three holes to Adam Scott.
Tiger Woods stays bogey-free and rolls in a 5-footer for par at 13 to go 5 up with five to play against Aaron Baddeley.
• • •
There’s another point for the Internationals, as Geoff Ogilvy knocks off Bill Haas, 2 up, with a par at the last hole. It’s now 16-13 in favor of the Americans.
OGILVY DEF. HAAS, 2 UP
• • •
The long day is over for Robert Allenby, as David Toms completes a 3-1 week by closing him out, 7 and 5. The U.S. is now just two points from clinching the Cup.
TOMS DEF. ALLENBY, 7 AND 5
• • •
Nick Watney closes out an important match with K.J. Choi at the 16th, winning, 3 and 2.
WATNEY DEF. CHOI, 3 AND 2
Meanwhile, Tiger makes another putt, this one a 4-footer for par, to go 4 up over Baddeley.
• • •
After Bill Haas drops a 25-footer for birdie at the 17th, Geoff Ogilvy rolls one in on top of him to maintain a 1-up lead with one to play.
Down the road, a miraculous birdie by Phil Mickelson (and short miss by Adam Scott) leaves Lefty 3 down with three to play after a horrendous start.
• • •
Tiger Woods has now made five birdies through his first 11 holes, tapping in for a halve at the 11th. Woods maintains a 3-up lead over Aaron Baddeley.
David Toms keeps his foot on the gas, halving the 12th hole to maintain his 6-up lead over Robert Allenby.
• • •
There’s another two points for the home team, as Charl Schwartzel rolls in a birdie at the 17th to top Dustin Johnson, 2 and 1, and K.T. Kim two putts for par at the finishing hole to down Webb Simpson, 1 up. Kim had to hole another tough putt at the 18th, from 6 feet for par.
That puts the score at U.S. 14, Internationals 12.
SCHWARTZEL DEF. JOHNSON, 2 AND 1
KIM DEF. SIMPSON, 1 UP
• • •
And the Internationals now have their first point, as Ryo Ishikawa taps in for bogey at the 16th to claim a 3-and-2 win over Bubba Watson.
ISHIKAWA DEF. WATSON, 3 AND 2
The first point is on the board, as Hunter Mahan has put Jason Day out of his misery. He rolls in a 10-foot birdie at the 15th to win 5 and 3. Mahan finishes the week 4-1.
MAHAN DEF. DAY, 5 AND 3
• • •
After squandering a 3-up lead, K.T. Kim knocks in a birdie at the 17th to go back on top by one with one to play over Webb Simpson. Remember there is no halving matches until the Cup has been decided. All matches that are tied through 18 holes will go to extras.
After missing a 6-foot par putt, Jim Furyk has now lost two straight holes to Ernie Els and his lead has been cut to 2 up.
Tiger’s hot putting continues, as he drops a 17-footer for birdie at the 10th. Baddeley’s birdie putt leaks right and he finds himself 3 down through 10.
• • •
After winning two of the last four holes, struggling Jason Day loses the 14th to a Hunter Mahan birdie. He’s now 4 down with four to play.
Meanwhile, Tiger Woods isn’t giving up an inch, making a nice come-backer for par at the ninth to halve with Baddeley. He’s 2 up at the turn.
• • •
After taking relief from the grandstands, K.T. Kim was given further relief and is now in good shape at the 16th. His second shot comes up short in the bunker and he plays a nice shot within 5 feet. Webb Simpson’s birdie putt is on a perfect line, but just short. Kim’s par putt to halve violently lips out and the match is all square.
• • •
Bubba Watson hit the green at the par-5 15th in two, but left his eagle putt well short. Ryo Ishikawa narrowly misses a birdie that would have closed the match and Bubba converts his birdie to extend the match. He’s 3 down with three to play.
Retief Goosen has taken a 2 up lead over Matt Kuchar, while David Toms is on the way to giving Allenby an 0-4 record. He’s now 5 up.
• • •
After losing the opening hole, Steve Stricker has now won three of the last four and taken a 2 up lead over Y.E. Yang through five.
After shooting 9-over 44 on the front nine, Jason Day has finally won a hole, sinking a 4-foot birdie at the 11th to move back to 4 down against Hunter Mahan.
Webb Simpson is back within one in his match against K.T. Kim, making a birdie at the 15th. Kim is 1 up with three to play.
• • •
Ryo Ishikawa, the youngest player at the Presidents Cup, is pouring it on Bubba Watson, making another birdie to win the 13th and go 4 up with five to play.
Tiger Woods moves it to 2 up over Aaron Baddeley with a birdie at the sixth hole. It seems like the putts that lipped out yesterday are now beginning to fall.
Another roar comes from Geoff Ogilvy, who drops a 50-footer for birdie at No. 12 to go 1 up over Bill Haas.
• • •
Finally some good news for Robert Allenby, who buries a 30-foot birdie to win a hole over David Toms and get it back to 2 down.
More bad news for Phil Mickelson, who three-putts from 6 feet and loses another hole to Adam Scott. He’s now 4 down through six.
Meanwhile, in what’s been a slug-fest so far, Tiger Woods rolls in a 15-footer for birdie at the fifth to go 1 up on Aaron Baddeley.
• • •
The roars keep coming at Royal Melbourne – Ryo Ishikawa just chipped in from the fairway at the short par-4 11th. Playing from a tough spot in the greenside bunker, Bubba Watson got it up and down to halve the hole and remain 3 down.
Meanwhile, Steve Stricker kicked in a short par at the par-3 third to move to all square with Y.E. Yang.
Paced by his strong putting, David Toms has cruised to a 3 up lead over Robert Allenby. through five.
• • •
K.J. Choi just stole one from Nick Watney at the seventh, holing a three-hop bunker shot for birdie. Choi is 1 down through 7,
Aaron Baddeley played another brilliant bunker shot at the third, rolling it inside 6 inches at the par-3 third from a tough spot to halve for par. He’s all square with Tiger Woods through three.
• • •
It’s amazing how things can “click” at the right time. Coming off one of his worst professional years, Jim Furyk is the only undefeated player at this year’s Presidents Cup, going 4-0. He can attribute this week’s success to his excellent putting, which was on display at the fourth hole, where he rolled in a 12-footer for birdie to go 2 up on Ernie Els.
• • •
It’s been a woeful start for Jason Day, who is now 3 down through six in his match against Hunter Mahan. Day is just 1-3-1 in his Presidents Cup debut while playing in his home country of Australia.
Similarly, struggles continue for Dustin Johnson, who just missed another short putt to go 3 down to Masters champ Charl Schwartzel.
• • •
After a short miss by Robert Allenby, David Toms takes an early lead with a tap-in par at the first. Nick Watney also extends his lead over K.J. Choi to 2 up and just like that each team is leading in four matches, with two up for grabs.
Aaron Baddeley and Tiger Woods just teed off. If the Internationals can put some points on the board, their match may come to mean something in this contest.
• • •
Oh, the horror!
Phil Mickelson’s start has been unbelievable. After mis-hitting a chip at the third and watching it roll down the hill back to him, he blasts his second shot over the green and into the bunker. He concedes a third straight hole to Adam Scott.
Meanwhile, at the par-5 second, Retief Goosen holed his third shot from the rough for an eagle-3 from 45 yards. Matt Kuchar’s eagle attempt just misses and there is one American lead out there, belonging to Hunter Mahan.
• • •
The woes continue for Phil Mickelson, who needs two shots to get out of the greenside bunker at the par-5 second. Even when he does escape, he leaves himself a 25-footer for par. Adam Scott is inside 6 feet for birdie, which is conceded after Mickelson misses his par attempt.
- Internationals: 4
- U.S.: 2
- All square: 2
• • •
The U.S. puts two flags back on the board with wins by Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan, but Ryo Ishikawa extends his lead over Bubba Watson to 2 up after winning the par-3 fifth.
Meanwhile Phil Mickelson is struggling at the first, hitting his tee shot in the deep rough and running his second well past the green. He also blasts his chip shot well past the hole and leaves his 30-footer for par well short. Seeing enough, he concedes Adam Scott’s 10-foot birdie and goes 1 down.
It’s four International flags, two American flags and one all square.
• • •
How fast are the greens at Royal Melbourne? With a chance to two-putt for victory from 40 feet, Bubba Watson putted his ball 30 yards off the green at the third. Bubba turns a birdie opportunity into a double-bogey, as Ishikawa taps in for bogey to win the hole and go 1 up.
There is only one American flag on the board in the first five matches, as Hunter Mahan makes par at the first to go 1 up on Jason Day. It’s very early, but if the Internationals were looking for a quick start, it appears they have succeeded.
Interesting comment from Gary Koch, who says that Royal Melbourne “exposes the weaknesses that Dustin Johnson has,” referring to his weaknesses around the green. That comment comes after Johnson leaves his chip short at the third and watches the ball roll back to his feet. He follows that by doing the exact same thing again and he falls quickly into a 2-down hole against Charl Schwartzel.
Meanwhile Ishikawa quickly squares up his match with Bubba with a birdie at the second, taking down the only American flag from the leaderboard.
• • •
Bubba Watson takes the first lead of the day, holing a 7-foot left-to-right birdie at the opening hole to go 1 up on Ryo Ishikawa, who missed a birdie of similar length.
Meanwhile, Charl Schwartzel answers for the Internationals with a tap-in birdie at the par-5 second to go 1 up on Dustin Johnson.
Johnson’s birdie attempt from 10 feet didn’t even scare the hole. It seems like he’s yet to hole a putt of any significance this week.
The singles matches are underway and the greens are running incredibly fast. After both players in the opening group missed the green, both K.T. Kim and Webb Simpson got up and down for par. Kim made a slippery 7-footer coming back that was barely touched. The course has been a star all week and under the cloudless sky, today will be no exception.
• • •
6:20 p.m. EST
In looking at the stats, only four International players have recorded two or more points (as part of a foursome or four-ball team). K.J. Choi leads the way with three points, while Geoff Ogilvy and Charl Schwartzel each have 2.5 and Retief Goosen has two. Local favorite Robert Allenby is the only International player without a point.
On the U.S. side, Jim Furyk is undefeated and has 4 points, while Hunter Mahan, Webb Simpson, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson all have 3 points. Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods only have one point to their credit.
• • •
• Match #23, 6:30 p.m. EST: Webb Simpson, U.S., vs. K.T. Kim, International
• Match #24, 6:42 p.m.: Dustin Johnson, U.S., vs. Charl Schwartzel, International
• Match #25, 6:54 p.m.: Bubba Watson, U.S., vs. Ryo Ishikawa, International
• Match #26:, 7:06 p.m. Bill Haas, U.S., vs. Geoff Ogilvy, International
• Match #27, 7:18 p.m.: Hunter Mahan, U.S., vs. Jason Day, International
• Match #28, 7:30 p.m.: Nick Watney, U.S., vs. K.J. Choi, International
• Match #29, 7:42 p.m.: Phil Mickelson, U.S., vs. Adam Scott, International
• Match #30, 7:54 p.m.: Matt Kuchar, U.S., vs. Retief Goosen, International
• Match #31, 8:06 p.m.: Jim Furyk, U.S., vs. Ernie Els, International
• Match #32, 8:18 p.m.: David Toms, U.S., vs. Robert Allenby, International
• Match #33, 8:30 p.m.: Tiger Woods, U.S., vs. Aaron Baddeley, International
• Match #34, 8:42 p.m.: Steve Stricker, U.S., vs. Y.E. Yang, International
There are a lot of great storylines in these match-ups, including Hunter Mahan getting another shot at Jason Day, only hours after Mahan upstaged a big putt by Day with one of his own. (Read Jim McCabe’s story on Mahan’s celebration here)
In looking at these matches, do the Internationals have a realistic shot at winning the singles 8.5-3.5? Our Alex Miceli breaks down each match, including his bold predictions on each.
An unexpected secret weapon bounded to the forefront for the Internationals on Saturday, with the Korean tandem of Y.E. Yang-K.T. Kim shocked Tiger Woods-Dustin Johnson in four-ball action. Kim will start the singles action and Yang will play in the final grouping, showing that Greg Norman is looking for the Koreans to set the tone.
Looking for another story? Check out our Complete Coverage page, where you can find all of our coverage from this week, including commentary and features from all four of our writers on the ground in Melbourne.