Often in sports, the team with the better player wins more than it loses. Tiger Woods is the best player in the world, and the United States is thrilled he’s on its side.
For the third Presidents Cup in a row, Woods sank the putt that clinched the title for the Americans over the International team. For the fourth time this week, the world’s top-ranked player emerged victorious from his match. And for the fifth time in a row, the U.S. defeated the Internationals for the Cup, 18.5-15.5.
Despite an inspiring rally on Sunday in the last of five sessions – the singles matches – the hodgepodge team of Internationals couldn’t quite catch the Americans. The U.S. took a six-point lead into the singles session after wrapping up the foursomes action earlier Sunday, and early on stretched the advantage to seven. But after American Zach Johnson defeated Branden Grace to make it 17-10, the Internationals secured three matches in a row. And the four matches remaining were either even or within one point.
But Woods ended the drama with a two-putt for par on the 18th hole against Richard Sterne, giving the U.S. its Cup-clinching 18th point. Woods is the only player to gain the winning Presidents Cup point on three occasions.
The victory moved Woods to 4-1 on the week (he and Matt Kuchar teamed up to win three of their four matches), the best mark among the 24 players competing, and pushed the U.S. to 8-1-1 in Presidents Cup history. The International team won 1998, the squads tied in 2003, and the Americans have won each time since. But the three-point margin was the closest since 2005.
In eight Presidents Cup appearances, Woods is now 24-15-1. While that’s the most victories in the event’s history, it’s not the most points. Phil Mickelson has earned 25.5 points for the U.S. in 10 all-time appearances (he’s 20-16-11 overall) – that’s every Presidents Cup ever played.
And to think, Woods’ singles win came with his back ailing him yet again. Pain appeared to flare up on the back nine, where he couldn’t even manage a birdie, but still was able to fend off Sterne. Playing parts of three matches on Saturday did little to aid a back that’s been bothersome for a couple months now.
But the 37-year-old Woods can now enjoy some rest and relaxation. He won’t play competitive golf again until his one-on-one duel with Rory McIlroy in The Match at Mission Hills on Oct. 28.
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