The Presidents Cup is staying at home after the U.S wrapped up an 18.5-15.5 victory over the Internationals at rain-soaked Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
It wasn’t really that close.
When foursomes play resumed Sunday morning, the U.S. extended its lead to six points heading into the 12 singles matches, and there would be no “Miracle at Muirfield” like the comeback by the Europeans at last year’s Ryder Cup at Medinah. Nevertheless, International captain Nick Price was proud of how his team fought to the bitter end.
“These guys played their tails off,” Price said. “We’re a real hodge-podge of a team that came together from four corners of the planet. And they gave the might of America a run for their money.”
The Americans continued their dominance of the Presidents Cup, winning for the fifth straight time and eighth overall (with one tie) since its inception in 1994. For the third straight Presidents Cup, Tiger Woods secured the clinching point for the American side.
“It feels good,” Woods said. “It was a team effort this whole week. We really played well, and gave ourselves a really nice lead going into the singles, and it was a tough day, tough conditions, rain, wind. It was tough all around.”
Once again, the Internationals had no answer for the U.S team.
“I mean, what a lineup they have; it’s awesome,” Adam Scott said. “Everyone that I’ve seen on their team has played really beautiful golf. I think our team has played well, as well but they have really stuck it to us.”
By the time the winning putt dropped, talk about tweaking the Presidents Cup format already surfaced in order to avoid the type of American domination that once plagued the Ryder Cup. Price, for one, wasn’t in a rush to make his suggestions public.
“There’s lots of changes I would like to see but I don’t think we should discuss those now,” Price said. “Let’s let the Americans enjoy this win and let’s look to the future as to what we can do to make this perhaps more competitive.”
Here are 5 Things to Know about Sunday’s finale at the Presidents Cup.
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1. EASY LIKE SUNDAY MORNING FOR U.S.: The U.S. at one point trailed all five matches in the Saturday-afternoon foursomes, but rallied during the completion of the rain-delayed matches Sunday morning to win 3.5 of the round’s five points and assume a 14-8 lead heading into singles. To reverse the deficit, the International squad would have needed 10 singles wins to claim the Cup, or the largest rally in any team event.
International team captain Nick Price said his team’s spirits were low heading into the Sunday singles. What did he say to inspire them?
“Not a lot, to be honest with you,” said Price, who called the chances of a comeback “a tall order.”
Too tall, it turned out to be.
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2. WOODS SEALS DEAL, TWEAKS BACK: Tiger Woods defeated South African Richard Sterne 1 up in their singles match to win the point that secured the Presidents Cup would stay on American soil for the next two years.
Woods fell behind, losing the par-5 sixth hole to Sterne’s birdie, but bounced back with birdie at the ninth to even the match. Tiger grabbed his first lead at the par-3 12th hole after Sterne dumped his tee shot in the water. No one ever led by more than one hole and Sterne evened the match a hole later when Woods made bogey.
The task for Woods became tougher when he began suffering back spasms.
“Went out on me at 14 and from then on, it just kept getting worse,” Woods said of his back.
But Woods, who clutched his back after his second shot on No. 15, downplayed the significance of an injury that has bothered him since The Barclays in late August.
“It’s a little tight, but I’m sure we can find some swing lube later for this,” Woods said.
Woods pulled ahead at the par-3 16th, where Sterne overcooked his tee shot, nearly hooking it into a sky box. Woods won the hole with a par and hung on for the victory against Sterne, who was winless in his rookie appearance in the Cup.
“It doesn’t get any tougher than playing against Tiger Woods, so to hit the shots as good as I did and to play as calm and relaxed as I did will help me a lot going forward,” Sterne said.
Woods, who didn’t make a birdie on the back nine, wasn’t sharp but did enough to make sure Captain Fred Couples hoisted the trophy for a third time.
“I was like, ‘I really don’t want to play anymore. Just can I win? Can I halve this last hole? Somehow?’ And it ended up being that way.”
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3. ROOKIES DELAET, DE JONGE SHINE: The International team took it on the chin, but might have found stars in the making: Two of its rookies could lead them to victory in the future.
Graham DeLaet holed out from a bunker on No. 18 for birdie to defeat Jordan Spieth 1 up and finished with a record of 4-1. He impressed everyone from Jack Nicklaus to teammate Adam Scott, who called DeLaet the International team’s MVP.
“He showed some real guts and determination in all his matches. And holing shots on the 18th is amazing,” Scott said. “That’s when you know some guy has really got it and he wants it.”
Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge was a bit of a surprise pick by captain Price, but proved his mettle. de Jonge carried teammate Ernie Els in two victories, but de Jonge was steamrolled 6 and 4 in his singles match with Jason Dufner on Sunday. Overall, de Jonge finished 2-3.
“He is a ball striker,” NBC’s Peter Jacobsen said. “This (playing in the Presidents Cup) could really boost his confidence and career.”
Jacobsen wasn’t the only one who thought the Presidents Cup experience could lift a player to new heights.
“I got some really kind words from Mr. Nicklaus on the first tee today saying it’s really going to build my confidence, and I think that’s true,” DeLaet said.
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4. NICKLAUS’S SPORTING WEEKEND: With the Presidents Cup held at “the course that Jack built,” Jack Nicklaus seemed to be everywhere at Muirfield Village and points in between as the “quasi-host” of the biennial event.
In addition to taking in the action at the Presidents Cup, on Friday night Nicklaus sported a No. 18 jersey and dropped the ceremonial puck at the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets home opener against the Calgary Flames. (See his puck drop here.)
It was just the second hockey game Nicklaus said he had ever attended.
Saturday, Nicklaus jetted to Tallahassee, Fla., to see his grandson, Nick O’Leary catch two touchdown passes for Florida State in a 63-0 rout of Maryland.
“The Presidents Cup is one thing and I’m here for all of it but 3 hours of it,” Nicklaus said. “I get to all my grandson’s games as best I can.”
After noting that the 2015 Cup will be played at a Nicklaus-designed course in South Korea, NBC’s Dan Hicks commented to Nicklaus, “You haven’t slowed down a bit.”
“If I ever do, you’re going to have to plant me,” Nicklaus replied.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Fans were robbed of a dramatic conclusion in more ways than one, but mostly because an Angel Cabrera vs. Phil Mickelson match that featured 11 changes was rendered all but meaningless by the Americans’ ability to clinch victory early. . . . After winning three of the first five singles matches (in the order they ended), the Americans managed just one more win and a halve. . . . Sunday’s halve between Louis Oosthuizen and Webb Simpson did not go to a playoff because by the time they finished 18 holes, the U.S. already had enough points to win. . . . U.S. captain Fred Couples said he would not return to that post next year, saying, “A three-peat is enough for me.”