Presidents Cup 2011: Grades for Team USA

Mike LynchContributor IIINovember 20, 2011

Presidents Cup 2011: Grades for Team USA

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    The United States retained the Presidents Cup with a wire-to-wire 19-15 victory over the International Squad.  Team USA got ahead 4-2 after Thursday's alternate shot matches.  They built on that lead Saturday, giving them a four-point advantage headed into Sunday.  The large deficit proved to be too much for the International Squad to overcome. 

    The win came at Royal Melbourne, the site of the Team USA's only loss in 1998.  They now have a record of 7-1-1 against the International Squad.

    Here are my grades along with a quick overview of the International team's effort.

International Team Overview

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    The International Squad was the clear underdog in the tournament.  Some of the highest-ranked players had very poor results.  Jason Day, Adam Scott and Aaron Baddeley all had losing records.

    The top performers were Charl Schwartzel and Geoff Ogilvy, both posting three wins, one loss and a draw.  K.J. Choi and Retief Goosen posted three wins and two losses.

    Robert Allenby had an awful tournament, failing to win or draw any match.  Ernie Els had four losses to only one win.  Y.E. Yang lost three matches with one win.

    K.T. Kim and Ryo Ishikawa surprised by each winning two matches along with two losses.  

    The International Team was hurt by their performance in the alternate shot matches.  They gained three points to the USA's eight.  In four-ball and singles, they actually beat the Americans, 12-11.  The poor efforts by top level players all but guaranteed a loss.

    As for Greg Norman's performance as team captain, Robert Allenby was clearly a mistake, but the alternatives did not have super resumes.  I don't think his parings were bad; his top guys just didn't come through.  He didn't do a great job, but don't blame him for the loss.

Fred Couples: A-

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    The USA captain is known for being a relaxed and likable guy.  Clearly, the players enjoyed his presence at Royal Melbourne. Bubba Watson and Tiger Woods actually looked happy on the golf course.  There was a sense of bonding among the team, even between Mickelson and Woods.

    Couples' captains picks, Bill Haas and Woods, both had losing records  That is the only real knock on his job.

Jim Furyk: A+

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    Record: 5-0

    Furyk was perfect in his five matches.  He teamed with Phil Mickelson for three matches and Nick Watney for one.    He crushed Ernie Els in his individual match.  He also was able to beat Adam Scott in two matches and Jason Day in another.  

    Furyk had struggled this season after winning the 2010 FedEx Cup.  His putting troubles vanished on the fast and tricky Royal Melbourne greens.

Hunter Mahan: A

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    Record: 4-1

    Mahan had two critical victories over Jason Day.  His wins in fourball over Day on Saturday and in singles on Sunday were crushing to the International Squad.  His victories were absolute routs, winning three of his matches by at least five holes.  Mahan was clearly highly motivated to avenge his Ryder Cup disappointment.

David Toms: A-

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    Record: 3-1

    Toms partnered with Mahan for three matches, winning two of them.  Toms crushed Robert Allenby in the final round.  He doesn't get an "A" like Mahan, as he was sat out for the afternoon round Saturday and played the weakest player for the International team on Sunday. It was a nice way for Toms to end his resurgent 2011.

Phil Mickelson: A-

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    Record: 3-1

    Mickelson struggled in team play at the Ryder Cup, going as far to say "blame me" during the press conference.  The idea that he is tough to partner with got put to rest after this week.  The pairing with Furyk saw them play dominant stretches to gain control.  The Saturday comeback against the team of Jason Day and Aaron Baddeley was a deadly blow for the International team.

    Mickelson lost his singles match against Adam Scott, but he was a main factor in the huge lead team USA had entering the last day.

Nick Watney: B+

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    Record: 2-1-1

    Watney started off with a halved match and a loss, but won two huge matches.  He combined with Mahan to beat Jason Day and Aaron Baddeley to ensure the large lead entering Sunday's final round.  His win over K.J. Choi was crucial. He prevented the USA from losing five out of six matches to start the final round.

Webb Simpson: B

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    Record: 3-2

    Simpson teamed with Bubba Watson and the duo won their first three matches.  They were critical to building the big lead for the USA.  However, he struggled in his third team match and lost to Japanese Tour player K.T. Kim in singles.  

Bubba Watson: B

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    Record: 3-2

    See the Webb Simpson explanation.  Bubba's performance was identical, except he lost on Sunday to Ryo Ishikawa.

    The Simpson-Watson combination was a true example of players feeding off each other.  It is an absolute blast seeing these guys paired together  

Tiger Woods: C+

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    Record: 2-3

    Woods found his game Sunday, as he had five birdies after 13 holes.  Aaron Baddeley was beaten in 15 holes despite playing well.  Overall, his game resembled what we have seen recently from him.  He had stretches of great play, but was largely erratic overall.  

    He and Steve Stricker suffered the worst loss in Cup history in the first round.  The pairing with Dustin Johnson did not click, either.  On a positive note, Woods finally looked happy to be on the course.  

Steve Stricker: C

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    Record 2-2

    Stricker and partner Tiger Woods were embarrassed in their Thursday loss by a record margin. Stricker did win a singles match, but the cup had been decided by then.  It seemed that he was not quite ready after dealing with a shoulder injury.

Bill Haas: C-

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    Record: 1-3-1

    Haas seemed to feel the nerves in his first Presidents Cup.  He did have a nice win with Hunter Mahan over Jason Day and Aaron Baddeley.  The captain' selection had to be disappointed by his play.  He did win the FedEx Cup, after all.

Matt Kuchar D+

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    Record: 1-3-1

    Kuchar was lucky to avoid a 1-4 finish.  In the first day of foursomes, Jason Day and Aaron Baddeley bogeyed the last two holes, dropping into a tie.  His win came over the team of Allenby and Yang, not exactly the meat of the International squad.  Given his steady play designed to limit mistakes, his performance was surprising.

Dustin Johnson: F

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    Record: 1-3-1

    Johnson really did not deserve a point.  He can credit his alternate shot win to Tiger Woods. His draw came after Bay and Baddeley bogeyed the last two holes.  He was useless to Tiger in their Saturday foursome match.  Perhaps Johnson was thrown off by the subtle challenge of Royal Melbourne.  He is way too talented to play this poorly.