Presidents Cup 2013: Analyzing United States' Triumph over International Team
Past performances don't necessarily indicate future results, but you sure wouldn't know that based on the golf world's two most famous international competitions. The United States completed the almost foregone conclusion on Sunday, getting the necessary points to win the 2013 Presidents Cup.
Now, if you're currently watching NBC's coverage and wondering what the heck I'm talking about, I'm not coming to you from the future. I have been gifted the magical abilities of Internet, which bequeathed upon me the knowledge that Tiger Woods lagged a beautiful putt on No. 18 to defeat Richard Sterne and clinch the victory for his country.
The United States would wind up winning the Presidents Cup 18.5-15.5 overall by the time the day's action was done.
USA now 8-1-1 all-time at Presidents Cup. 5th straight victory.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) October 6, 2013
It was a special moment for Woods and his teammates, but folks have to be getting used to this by now. This is the third straight Presidents Cup where the world's top-ranked player has recorded the clinching point for the United States. This is fifth straight time the United States has won the junior event, and it has lost only once in the history of the Presidents Cup.
Tiger clinches the winning Presidents Cup point for a third straight time.— GC Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) October 6, 2013
Of course, the European Team has nearly matched that dominance in the Ryder Cup. The United States has won that event just once in its past six tries, including an epic collapse last year that saw the Europeans come from a 10-6 deficit on Sunday to pull out a win before a shell-shocked crowd at Medinah.
There would be no slacked jaws at Muirfield Village on Sunday.
The United States came into Sunday's action with the score feeling eerily similar to the 2012 Ryder Cup. The host country had a five-point lead after darkness halted the third day of action on Saturday and began the final day by extending its lead even further. Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker put a stake right to the heart of the Internationals by coming back to defeat Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel after trailing by three holes, right as Bill Haas and Steve Stricker were recording another United States victory.
Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley only halved their match with Jason Day and Graham DeLaet, and Woods and Matt Kuchar lost for the first time all week, but the damage was critical nonetheless. The United States carried a six-match lead (14-8) at the end of foursome play. There were 12 singles matches to be finished over the course of the rest of the day. The Internationals couldn't possibly put another scare into the United States, could they?
Ernie Els, Jason Day, Graham DeLaet and Adam Scott all ripped off wins in the early afternoon, keeping the International team's comeback hopes alive. Hunter Mahan, Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson had each gotten wins, leaving the red, white and blue just one halving away from another triumph.
But much like a year ago, the Internationals had pilfered momentum by mid-afternoon as the final matches of the day started revving up. The visiting side held leads or were within one stroke late in each of the final singles matches of the day, leaving Yahoo! Sports' Shane Bacon to awaken (you see, that rhymes) the slumbering golf public by telling them to start following the action:
This comeback would prove futile, however, thanks to a man whose performance in these events has often drawn criticism.
Woods certainly didn't play his best round on Sunday—his round translated to even par on Sunday—but he took advantage of Sterne's mistakes. The world's top-ranked player twice won holes where his opponent hit balls into the water (No. 9 and No. 12) and captured a critical win on No. 16 when Sterne sent his approach flying over the green.
That win culminated a sensational week for Woods, who has been battling a nagging back injury throughout the fall. He was responsible for four of the United States' 18.5 points, with three of his wins playing alongside Kuchar. The duo was dominant, scoring three wins as partners and reminding fans that, once upon a time, Tiger Woods actually enjoyed playing golf. Throughout the weekend, one of the most amusing stories was Woods and Kuchar insisting on awkwardly recreating the handshake from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
One could use the victory as a pulpit to push any number of narratives. That Tiger Woods somehow suddenly "enjoys" golf again after years of personal and professional turmoil. That Woods could use his Presidents Cup triumph as a confidence buoy heading into the next PGA Tour season, which begins in all of about 17 minutes, by the way.
Not only should we know better than to ascribe our own favorite narrative to Tiger at this point, but it would also ignore the accomplishments of his teammates in Ohio. Kuchar was every bit as spectacular as Woods (if not more so) during their partnership, and others like Dufner also had dominant weekends leading their country to victory.
The United States won, mainly because the sum of its parts was greater than one or two players. It's no coincidence that the International Team was able to dominate the singles competition. It was almost clandestine at times during four-ball and foursome play that one U.S. golfer would step up on holes where his partner struggled—and vice versa.
That is the story coming out of the 2013 Presidents Cup. Not Tiger Woods. Not Phil Mickelson. Not even Davis Love III's wonderful dalliance as a baby squirrel owner. It's that the United States came back one year after being embarrassed on its own turf, held on late and came away with the Presidents Cup trophy.
Just don't, like, expect that to happen at next year's Ryder's Cup. Because if there is anything we've learned from the past two decades of golf, it's that the United States may have All the President's Men, but the Internationals have the "Ambitionz Az a Ridah."
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