Phil Mickelson wrapped up the final points of the Presidents Cup against Adam Hadwin to take the total to 19-11, but not before a spirited day of singles matches from the Internationals.
With just a single point needed from the final day of matches, it was almost a foregone conclusion that the U.S would take home the Presidents Cup for the 10th time, starting the day at 14.5-3.5.
After a half-point was secured in the top match between Kevin Chappell and Marc Leishman to take the Americans within half a point of victory, and it was rookie Daniel Berger who would take the US over the line with a 2&1 win over Si Woo Kim.
And while the contest was over by the fourth match, the Internationals showed they were down but not beaten – raising the scoreline to a much more respectable margin with a win in the singles.
It may have been all a little too late, but the highest ranked players on the International side finally gained points for their team. Jason Day was the first to bring home a full point, defeating Charley Hoffman 2&1 in the second match, and World No.3 Hideki Matsuyama quickly followed suit, birdieing nine holes on his way to a 3&1 triumph over FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas.
Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen both defeated their opponents on the 18th hole, with Schwartzel taking down Matt Kuchar and Ootshuizen besting Captain America Patrick Reed
The seventh match between Dustin Johnson and Branden Grace resulted in a half, but the Internationals would again win the next two. Adam Scott defeated US Open Champion Brooks Koepka, while Jhonattan Vegas won his first Presidents Cup points against World No 2 and Open Champion Jordan Spieth – who’s singles record is now 0-5 in all team appearances.
Anirban Lahiri met Kevin Kisner in the 10th match, looking for redemption for his lack of points in 2015. He’d already done that on Saturday by making sure the Presidents Cup wasn’t won before the singles matches had even begun, but a fight-back and a half-point in the singles later more than secured his redemption.
Rickie Fowler had the most convincing (6&4) win of the day against Emiliano Grillo, who had a difficult baptism in to the Presidents Cup this week, but it was veteren Phil Mickelson who secured the final points of the afternoon – winning his match 2&1 against Adam Hadwin.
United States Captain Steve Stricker said, “It’s been a great ride. There’s a lot of hard work from everybody involved – all the players, the assistant captains, and it’s just a great group of guys, they played so well together and get on so well.”
“They came here riding a ton of momentum and a ton of confidence… and they just played unbelievably well.”
“Our guys just came in on a little bit better form than the International team is the bottom line. They have great players in there but I think some of their great players weren’t playing up to their capabilities and our guys were.”
The next staging of the event will take place in 2019 at Royal Melbourne in Australia, site of the only International victory in 1998.
The Take-aways from the Presidents Cup
The USA now have a few really solid pairings that we can expect to see for some time – particularly looking ahead to next year’s Ryder Cup. Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed have always been thought of as the power-pairing, and it’s unsurprising given their now 7-1-3 record, but there’s a few other duo’s you can now add to that list. Rickie Fowler & Justin Thomas went 3-0-0 in their three matches together, while Phil Mickelson & Kevin Kisner were 2-0-1 and Dustin Johnson won twice with both Matt Kuchar and Brooks Koepka as partners.
The contest is far from dead. That was the spin and the feeling after Saturday finished an embarassing 14.5-3.5, but it showed with the heavy International singles session win that it wasn’t about the calibre of players – just a combination of pairings needing a bit of work and coming up against guys who are all on form.
Adam Scott said, “I think as Internationals we just need to get more invested in it. The Americans get to play every year which can be tiresome but they’ve certainly found their rhythm and a system. We just need everyone to get a little more invested, not just every two years.”