If the Mark Twain quote on the exaggerated reports of his death has received exaggerated attention, so too has the reported demise of Team USA. While it’s true that the Ryder, Solheim and Curtis Cups currently rest outside US boundaries, the Walker and now the Presidents Cup are on US soil for the next two years. Buoyed by early Sunday wins from Jason Dufner and Hunter Mahan, the American side left a rain-soaked Muirfield Village golf club with an 18.5 to 15.5 triumph over the International team.
Needing seventeen total points to retain the cup for the eighth time in the event’s 20-year history, the defending champions found themselves with a six-point advantage on Sunday morning. Faced with the apparently-simple task of winning three matches to retain the coveted trophy, the red, white and blue captured two of the first three matches to reach the cusp of victory. The 14-8 Saturday-evening advantage was not the lock many expected, however. Jason Day, Graham DeLaet and Adam Scott won matches four through six to bring the Internationals closer to an unanticipated fourth-day rally.
DeLaet’s triumph was particularly noteworthy. Paired against the boy wonder, Jordan Spieth, DeLaet found himself one hole down with five to play. The Canadian stalwart won holes fifteen and sixteen to reverse the score, then held off the young Texan for a one-up win. Zach Johnson halted the rally from the rest of the world with a 4 & 2 conquest of South Africa’s Brendan Grace. Johnson went three up in the first seven holes, survived a mid-round rally from Amazing Grace, then won three holes from 12 through 15 to seal the match and preserve a USA hold on the President”s Cup.
Among the final five matches, Tiger Woods captured a one-up victory over South African Richard Sterne and Webb Simpson earned a half against Louis Oosthuizen. Winning late matches were Angel Cabrera (v. Phil Mickelson), Charl Schwartzel (v. Keegan Bradley) and Marc Leishman (v. Matt Kuchar.) The International side proved itself the more than the equal in the USA’s traditional strong suit, the singles match. When the next President’s Cup is played in 2015 on International soil, the captain might do well to schedule two rounds of individual competition.
Unlike the Ryder Cup, where Europe seems to flourish in team matches, the International side struggled this week in four-ball and foursomes matches. Ernie Els and Brendon deJonge won two of their four partner matches, while Jason Day and DeLaet won 2.5 of 4 possible points. The remaining partnerships were unable to establish any rhythm and combined to put the International team in a six-point hole after five rounds of matches.