Oct
7
2013
Sunday’s hit list at the Presidents Cup: U.S. too good to beat
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour
Things are better when Lindsey is around....

Things are better when Lindsey is around….

Before we wrap up this year’s edition of the Presidents Cup, let’s take a look at some of Sunday’s best moments, along with random yet interesting tidbits from behind the scenes.

First of all, let’s take a moment and give the organizers of the tournament a round of applause for getting the matches finished not only on Sunday, but *early*in the afternoon. Who would have thunk? *Golf claps*

The final tally for the Presidents Cup: USA 18.5, International 15.5

Singles – International 7.5, United States 4.5
Match 23     Ernie Els (International)  defeated Steve Stricker (U.S.), 1 up

Match 24    Hunter Mahan (U.S.) defeated Hideki Matsuyama(International)  , 3 and 2

Match 25    Jason Dufner (U.S.) defeated Brendon de Jonge(International)  , 4 and 3

Match 26    Jason Day (International)  defeated Brandt Snedeker (U.S.), 6 and 4

Match 27    Graham DeLaet (International)  defeated Jordan Spieth (U.S.), 1 up

Match 28    Adam Scott (International)  defeated Bill Haas (U.S.), 2 and 1

Match 29    Zach Johnson (U.S.) defeated Branden Grace (International)  , 4 and 2

Match 30    Marc Leishman (International)  defeated Matt Kuchar (U.S.), 1 up

Match 31    Tiger Woods  (U.S.)defeated Richard Sterne(International)  , 1 up

Match 32    Charl Schwartzel (International)  defeated Keegan Bradley (U.S.), 2 and 1

Match 33    Louis Oosthuizen (International)  halved with Webb Simpson (U.S.)

Match 34    Angel Cabrera (International)  defeated Phil Mickelson (U.S.), 1 up

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Tiger Woods won the Cup-clinching point for the third Presidents Cup in a row (2009, 2011, 2013). And Captain Fred Couples said it wasn’t really planned that way.

“No, not really,” said Couples when asked if he had an idea the tournament would come down to Tiger’s match vs. Sterne. “But once it got going, again, I didn’t see Jay (Haas) all day, I don’t think, not one time.  But I was all over him trying to get somebody to step up.  We put Hunter (Mahan) out — well, he went out first and got a huge point, and I watched him play a handful of holes.  He was phenomenal.

“Then obviously Duf took charge in his match, and then it came down to really Zach winning his match and then it was going to be Kuch, it was going to be Strick.  Turned out to be Tiger.”

Tiger, who was beat-up and exhausted, tweaked his back in singles on the 14th hole — similar to the issue he had at The Barclays earlier this year.

“I was at a point where I wasn’t feeling my best coming down the stretch, and happened to get a 1up lead,” said Woods in the post-team presser.  ”I was just trying to just hang on to that.  Problem was, I knew I wasn’t feeling good, and if I happened to mess up 18 and we had to go down  we had to continue playing until it’s been decided.”

Yeah, you can’t win a half point in singles in the Presidents Cup. I learned that today. Well, not surprisingly, Tiger didn’t feel like playing any more holes than he had to because, well, it’s been a freaking long week.

“I was like, I really don’t want to play anymore,” said Woods, laughing. “Just can I win, can I halve this last hole, somehow, and it ended up being that way.

“To have the opportunity to win the Cup for Freddie and all the guys on the team, it means a lot to me, and to be able to have trust in the guys and be able to go out there and earn a point, it means a lot.”

Hats off to Richard Sterne for taking the match all the way to the 18th hole. Neither of them played great, but Sterne didn’t seem phased he was playing TIGER WOODS.

“I was fairly relaxed, I was actually enjoying the match,”he said.  ”You know, we played pretty well, but neither of us really made any putts.  But obviously 16 was the turning point in our match, and that was unfortunate that it didn’t go my way.

“But it was a good experience.”

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The Internationals played their hearts out and they were all class in defeat. They commended the Americans for their fine play. They didn’t get their butts whopped too badly in the end, either — only by three points, but they gave the U.S. all the credit they deserved.

“These (American) guys just played unbelievable,” said Ernie Els, following his 1up win against Stricker. “Geez, we’ve got guys going through the record books to see how many birdies were made. I don’t think anything can compare — Ryder Cup, anything, I know the course is pretty soft, but the quality of play from the Americans was just staggering.”

Though Stricker lost to Els in a close match, the semi-retired golfer is happy with his season and what he’s accomplished.

“I didn’t make any putts today, but first three days, I made all the clutch putts I had to,” said Stricker. “I hit good quality shots coming down when I had to. I’ll remember that and feed off that for next year, knowing that I can do it under the pressure. The more times you can play in competitions like this, the better off we are.”

Why can’t they play like this in the Ryder Cup??

“We want to win so badly that sometimes it gets in the way of good play,” said Stricker. “So, we try to take this atmosphere we have here (at the Presidents Cup) and take it to the Ryder Cup, but it’s hard to do.

“The stage is bigger. You can feel it. You can feel it from the crowd — from the time you get out on the practice round days to the very end compared to this. It’s just a bigger stage and It means more it feels like. We’re trying to learn and we’re trying to bring this attitude we have here, but like I said, it’d be hard.”

Indeed. The Internationals could use some similar advice on how they see the Presidents Cup. Then again, it’s the closest thing they have to do the Ryder Cup.

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Jason Day and Graham DeLaet’s bromance is actually really adorable.

The duo didn’t know each other well before they were paired in a practice round early in the week and they hit it off immediately. Now, they’re like, BFFs.

“We gelled really well this week,” said Day after crushing Snedeker 6&4. “It’s been fun to play with Graham.”

I asked him if he foresaw them playing practice rounds together and hanging out off the course in the future.

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “We got along so well, me and Graham, and even his caddie Julien. We have similar personalities, so it’s good.”

What was the atmosphere in the team room, particularly last night after it looked like Nick Price was going to cry in his presser?

“It’s good,” he said. “Well, you know what, it’s sort of hard to tell because some of the guys played round 2, round 3 and round 4, so they were tired. It’s been tough for the guys, but it’s been good. Everybody’s been having fun on the bus and on the way back and we don’t have a locker room, it’s just like a player villa where everyone hangs out. It’s been, it felt like a family. Everyone was enjoying themselves, joking around and stuff.”

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His new BFF Graham DeLaet said basically the same thing independently.

“Yeah, I mean, especially coming from one of the legends of the game,” said DeLaet when for his reaction to the high praise from Price. “Getting to know Nick the last week has been unbelievable, not only him, but also Mark, Tony Johnstone and Shigeki Maruyama, as well. We were surrounded by great guys; it’s unfortunate we didn’t get it done, but we had a great time and like I was telling Bob, there are going to be some bonds and friendships that are going to last a lifetime –that’s kind of the main thing we can take out of this.”

DeLaet had a somewhat strong Canadian contingent following him, along with a group of a dozen or so friends who came to support their friend, dubbed “Graham’s Gangsters.”

“It was so much fun,” said DeLaet on the Canadian support. “There were so many Canadians down here. A lot of my buddies came down from Saskatchewan and even some of my buddies from Idaho came over. I mean, I see Ryder jerseys and hockey jerseys everywhere we go and I’m just privileged — more than anything for them to come and watch, it means a lot. It’s a proud moment.”

His Gangsters even helped with his momentum coming down the stretch against Jordan Spieth, while they chanted, “G, G, G, G!”

“After I made par on 16, they were starting to get loud and I started feeling it a little bit,” said DeLaet. “I mean, there hasn’t been a whole lot of positive stuff said out of the crowd at us all week, so it was nice to get a little bit — and almost feel a little bit of momentum. I’m glad they were here.  And those t-shirts were pretty cool.”

Is this the best week you’ve ever had in your golfing career?

“100%,” said Graham without pause.

I think DeLaet might by my new favorite golfer. I mean, this guy chipped in twice on Sunday, including a hole out from the greenside bunker on 18 to clinch the match. I was standing next to his wife Ruby, along with Ellie Day again, so my ears are still ringing.

Plus, DeLaet is just such a great guy. Captain Price got a bit emotional when DeLaet spoke about his experience during the International team presser.

“I know that everyone back home is super proud, and I mean, I’m a proud Canadian,” said DeLaet. “It’s awesome to be here with these guys representing Canada.

“You know, we’re here as a team, and our main goal was to win, and it’s slightly disappointing, but the friendships and bonds that we’ve made over the last week we’ll carry on for a lifetime.  That’s what we are going to take out of this, and I think we are going to be stronger coming up in two years in Korea.  I definitely hope to be a part of that team.

“We’ve got a lot of young players, and I mean, I don’t think any of us could say enough about our four captains, especially Pricey.  He’s been unbelievable, and you know, a guy that I’m proud to call a friend now, an absolute legend in the game.

“It’s just an absolute pleasure to be part of this team, and it’s unfortunate that we didn’t get the W.”

Well said, G. Well said.

As you may recall, I wrote about Graham’s journey from back surgery to the Presidents Cup. Take a read if you haven’t already. The guy was essentially in the recline position for two months because of a back injury a few years ago and didn’t even know if he’d lead a normal life, let alone play golf at the highest level again.

“I still think about that every couple weeks probably now,” said DeLaet when asked about whether he could envision this moment after his injuries three years ago. “I’m just lucky to be where I am right now. I’m loving life and I still feel like I can go upwards from here.

“There was a point where I didn’t know if I’d be able to play with future kids and anything like that, and to be playing golf at a high level, it’s something I don’t take for granted.”

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MVP for the Internationals is a toss-up between DeLaet and Day, both of whom walked away with records of 3-1-1. DeLaet seems a tad more impressive just because he’s a rookie with the weight of Canada on his back, but they both represented their team well. There were seven rookies on the International Team, by the way.

As for the Americans, it’s definitely Tiger Woods, y’all, with a record of 4-1-0, but other than Tiger, many other of his teammates played incredibly well, too. This American team was deep. Can’t we just keep it the same for the Ryder Cup?? Anyhow, Kuchar was 3-2-0 and “gelled” well with Tiger. Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner finished 3-1-0 this week. Not bad, especially for Johnson, who had a bad case of the stomach flu earlier in the week.

Who’s your MVP?

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This part of the presser was funny when Kuchar pretended to be a reporter…

Q.  Question to Davis and Steve, if you think the format should switch over to The Ryder Cup, to have it spread out to four days and where guys are not really sitting out and showcase the depth more. 

STEVE STRICKER:  No.  (Laughter).

DAVIS LOVE III:  We all think it’s a lot of fun.  We like this format.  It’s something different.  You know, you can’t hide any guys, and everybody gets to play, and it’s always worked out well for us.  I think it shows how strong our team is, so it’s a fun format.

MATT KUCHAR:  Steve, what are your thoughts?

STEVE STRICKER:  I was asked this question earlier, and I said to leave The Ryder Cup alone the way it is, just because of the history that’s been involved there.

MATT KUCHAR:  (Reaching for microphone phone to ask Steve another ‘media’ question.)

STEVE STRICKER:  I think the possibility of change  we have been coming out on the other side of the coin in The Ryder Cup, but there’s just been so much history involved.  The one thing is, the one part I do like about this format is the first couple of days, we get a little bit of rest.  Whereas The Ryder Cup, it’s 36 holes Friday and Saturday.  Here, it’s spread over Thursday and Friday so we can rest up a little bit and get ready for the weekend.  I do like that part.

DAVIS LOVE III:  I thought you were asking about this format.  I like this format and I like The Ryder Cup format.  I think it works out well to leave both of them like they are.

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Here are highlights from both team’s pressers on YouTube, which are worth a watch. Both showed tremendous class in victory and defeat.

First, the Internationals:

Next, the Americans!

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By the way, the 2013-14 season starts tomorrow. “Scary thought,” said Stricker. Indeed.

Thanks for a great year, guys. See you in China at the end of the month.

(AP Photo/Darren Cummings)