November 19, 2011
Woods seals Presidents Cup for U.S.
By IAN HUTCHINSON, QMI Agency
Even those who criticized Fred Couples’ controversial decision to choose Tiger Woods as a captain’s pick could relate to the wide grin worn by Woods after clinching the Presidents Cup for the Americans, who finished with a 19-15 win.
It was the second consecutive time that Woods had clinched the Cup after doing the same in 2009 against Y.E. Yang. This time, he did it with a decisive 4&3 win over Aussie Aaron Baddeley.
As Couples pummeled Woods with playful punches and his teammates gathered around the beaming Woods, it seemed as if the former world No. 1 had found closure after a string of injuries, poor play and well-publicized marital problems.
Emphasize the word “seemed” in that statement. Woods was hardly dominant at Royal Melbourne, so despite the proclamations from the television cheerleaders that Couples’ choice had been vindicated by his singles win, Woods still only had a 2-3 record.
On the positive side, his ball-striking looked good for most of the Presidents Cup, even if his putter didn’t a lot of the time, but his singles performance against Baddeley was decisive as Woods had a 3 up lead by the 10th hole with all points coming on birdies.
Woods added a couple of more points on pars before Baddeley won the 13th hole and it will now be interesting what type of effect this has on Woods’ confidence, his main weakness over the past two gruelling years.
Woods’ performance came at a good time for the Americans, who were being pressed by a gritty International team that didn’t read the memo they were supposed to give up because of that 13-9 deficit they had against the Americans coming in to the last day.
TSN and The Golf Channel must have breathed a sigh of relief because what should have been an anti-climatic day turned into a tense finish worth watching. At one point, the Internationals, needing nine points, led in seven of the 12 matches.
It took over four hours for American Hunter Mahan to put the first win on the board, a 5&3 decision against Jason Day of the Internationals, who responded just a few minutes later with Ryo Ishikawa’s 3&2 win against Bubba Watson.
Charl Schwartzel clinched a 2&1 decision against Dustin Johnson and K-t Kim took a 1 up win over Webb Simpson to narrow the score to 14-12. However, such a score tends to be deceptive in the middle of play.
Nick Watney added another American point with a 3&2 win against K.J. Choi, followed quickly by David Toms clinching a decisive 7&5 victory against Robert Allenby. Suddenly, the U.S. was back to the four-point lead it had coming in at 16-12, but Geoff Ogilvy narrowed the margin to three again when he won 2 up against Bill Haas.
Jim Furyk, who struggled most of this season, kept his record perfect record at this year’s Presidents Cup with a 4&3 win against Ernie Els to assure the Americans of a tie, but Adam Scott won 2&1 against Phil Mickelson to keep the Internationals alive.
After Woods clinched the American win, Retief Goosen added another International point with a 1 up win over Matt Kuchar, but Steve Stricker finished it up for the Americans with a 2&1 win against Y.E. Yang.
GREENS GOT NASTIER
The Royal Melbourne greens looked to be rolling 14 to 141/2 on the stimp and promised to get even more nefarious with the sun shining and the wind blowing to dry them out even more ... The wind was blowing from the west/southwest 15 to 25 m.p.h. and, as Norman predicted, wreaked particular havoc on the final three holes ... The way the team matches went allowed Fred Couples the opportunity to load the back end of the singles competitions with veterans of Presidents Cup play, including Mickelson, Furyk, Toms, Woods and Stricker and that's where several matches were won ... It would be a legitimate second-guess of Norman's strategy if you wonder why, with the Internationals needing nine points on the day, he didn't start with one or two Aussies to get the crowd howling to spark momentum off the top. Instead, the Shark went with Kim against Simpson, with the first Aussie off being Ogilvy, who played Haas in the fourth singles match. Norman said he had confidence in Kim's abilities in match play and it was a bonus that Kim was coming off a four-ball win with Yang against Woods and Johnson. Kim did his part to silence any critics by going 1-up on the fourth hole and 3 up through seven.