Presidents Cup: The United States dominated the singles matches at Royal Melbourne to defeat the International side 16-14
The United States turned around a two point defecit by earning eight of the 12 singles points to win the Presidents Cup for the eighth consecutive time.
"We did it together," said an emotional Tiger Woods afterwards. "We came here as a team. My teammates and my boys all played well. The [assistant] captains did an amazing job of just being there for every little detail. I couldn't have done it without all their help and all my boys. They did it."
Woods, the youngest playing Captain in history, put himself off first against Abraham Ancer and quickly earned himself a further spot in the history books as he grabbed the first point of the day - and the all-time record 27th Presidents Cup match won by a player.
Woods, who was the only member of his team to win every one of his matches, held a lead that went back-and-forth to all-square on three occasions before back to back wins had him 2UP after 11. Ancer briefly halved that lead at 13, but Woods responded with a winning par at 14 before back-to-back birdies saw him close out a 3&2 victory to move the USA to within a point of the International lead.
Patrick Reed was the next player to put a point on the board as he showed he wasn't affected by the removal of his caddie for an altercation with a fan on Saturday, making five birdies in his first seven holes to find himself 6UP against C.T. Pan. Pan then won three holes in a row from the eighth and claimed the 13th with a birdie to peg Reed back to 2UP, but Captain America added back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16 to earn a 4&2 win, levelling the scores on 10 points each.
Dustin Johnson quickly followed with his straightforward 4&3 defeat over Haotong Li, ending a disappointing week for the Chinese player as the USA moved ahead for the first time in this year's Presidents Cup.
One of the more disappointing results for the Internationals came from the third match between Hideki Matsuyama and Tony Finau. Matsuyama had made four birdies on the front nine to get to 4UP by the turn, but Finau ensured he wasn't going to go down without a fight. The American won four holes in a row from the 11th to get the match back to all-square, and pulled the match level again when Mastuyama regained the lead at the 16th. The pair headed down the 18th all-square, and shared pars to earn the first half point of Sunday's singles.
The 2019 rookie of the year Sungjae Im provided the next bit of drama, winning four of his last five holes to take down U.S. Open Champion Gary Woodland, and bringing the overall match score to 11.5 points each.
Following that was another half, this time between Adam Hadwin and Bryson DeChambeau. Hadwin had found himself 2down against DeChambeau early on but by the ninth hole had brought that back to level. The pair then halved the next six holes before DeChambeau regained the lead at the 16th, but Hadwin won the 17th to bring it back to all-square, which is how the match ended after the Canadian was unable to see in his birdie try at the 18th.
Yet while the points lay at 12 apiece, the next three points that followed were all American. The first of those belonged to Patrick Cantlay, who went down early to Joaquin Niemann but rallied on two occasions to gain the lead, finishing with four birdies in his last six holes to win their match 3&2.
Adam Scott was the next International to fall, this time to Xander Schauffele, who gained the lead at the second and stayed ahead for the entirety of the match. Schauffele managed to get to 4UP by the seventh, and again at the 11th, and even a late eagle at 15 and par at 16 weren't enough for Scott to undo the damage, losing 2&1.
When Byeong Hun An fell to Webb Simpson with the same scoreline, the USA moved to 15 points - needing just a half to win - or to lose the next three and walk away with a tie in the Presidents Cup for just the second time.
At one stage, all three of the final International players were up, but the American's rallied well.
The final full International point came from Cameron Smith in his 2&1 defeat over Justin Thomas, having come back from 3down after five as JT struggled over the back nine.
From there came the decisive moment. Louis Oosthuizen had looked to be in complete control of his match when he took the first three holes against Matt Kuchar, but Kuch turned it around on the back-nine. With five birdies, Kuchar managed to move ahead for the first time at the 17th, guaranteeing at least a half, and victory for the Americans. He was unable to save par at the final hole to secure the whole point, but a half was good enough to put the scores at 13.5 - 15.5.
The final match of the afternoon came down to Marc Leishman and Rickie Fowler. Leishman made two early birdies to move 2UP after five, but back to back birdies at the sixth and seventh saw him lose that advantage before Fowler moved 1UP with a par at nine. The Australian immediately responded by winning the next two holes to regain the lead, but the roles had reversed again when Fowler birdied 17. Like Kuchar, Fowler was unable to get the par at the last, leaving Leishman with a half point and the final scores 16-14 in favour of the United States.
For the International team, it's a bitter pill to swallow. They stunned the United States during the first fourballs session with a 4-1 victory, and kept ahead after the next three sessions to hold a 10-8 lead heading in to the singles. They have still only one the contest once in the competitions history, back in 1998.
"We were right there at the end, but just a couple of matches didn’t go our way," said International captain Ernie Els. "The Americans just played really great golf. They made the putts when they needed to, and they got some crucial wins throughout the day.
Presidents Cup: The Results
3&2 (USA Point) Tiger Woods def. Abraham Ancer
A/S Hideki Matsuyama vs. Tony Finau
4&2 (USA Point) Patrick Reed def. C.T. Pan
4&2 (USA Point) Dustin Johnson def. Haotong Li
A/S Adam Hadwin vs. Bryson DeChambeau
4&3 (International Point) Sungjae Im def. Gary Woodland
2&2 (USA Point) Patrick Cantlay def. Joaquin Niemann
2&1 (USA Point) Xander Schauffele def. Adam Scott
2&1 (USA Point) Webb Simpson def. Byeong Hun An
2&1 (International Point) Cameron Smith def. Justin Thomas
A/S Louis Oosthuizen vs. Matt Kuchar
A/S Marc Leishman vs. Rickie Fowler