15 Dec 2019 | Professional golf |

Tiger steers Americans to historic comeback

by Mark Hayes

Team USA win the 2019 Presidents Cup

So close, yet so far.

Tiger Woods spearheaded the most prolific single-session haul in Presidents Cup history today to ensure his American team kept the trophy that has now eluded the International team for 21 years.

Beginning the final day with a two-point deficit, the US was simply irresistible, eventually overwhelming the gallant hosts 16-14.

The battle raged throughout a gripping day, still alive when Cameron Smith outduelled American ace Justin Thomas 2&1 in a pulsating clash.

But soon afterwards, Matt Kuchar made a putt that ensured the Americans would have at least the 15.5 points required for victory, their eighth in succession since the 2003 tie in South Africa. The Internationals’ lone win in the 25-year history of the event came at Royal Melbourne in 1998.

Woods was absolutely stunning against Abraham Ancer, the Mexican who has impressed so many this week, taking him down 3&2 with a birdie on the tough 16th.

As other results worked against previously unbeaten players, the 15-time major champion was left as the only man with a perfect record for the week.

And in his post-match media conference, he was savage in ensuring he knew that Ancer had wanted to take him on in singles this week.

“I hit it well this week. It was good,” Woods said.

“I was responsible for three points (through the week) and happened to play well and got Abe today. Abe wanted it; he got it.”

Tony Finau’s halved match with Hideki Matsuyama proved a real mood-changer with the American coming from 4-down early to thwart one of the International trump cards.

Patrick Reed ended a bad week in style with a 4&2 waltz over C.T. Pan, while Dustin Johnson ensured a flat week for Haotong Li ended even worse as the Americans gathered momentum.

Korean sensation Sungjae Im stopped the bleeding, but wins for Webb Simpson over Ben An, Patrick Cantlay over Joaquin Niemann and a vital point from Xander Schauffele over Adam Scott proved decisive.

US vice-captain Fred Couples acknowledged that Schauffele’s win had been critical, not only for the point, but also to blunt the hometown hero.

“Xander, to beat Adam Scott, on really a course that he plays very well, was really a huge point,” Couples said.

Adam Hadwin’s halved match against Bryson DeChambeau and Smith’s win gave faint hope, but Kuchar drew the final curtain when he fought back from 3-down through nine to blunt another International key, Louis Oosthuizen.

Marc Leishman and Rickie Fowler fought out a great contest that ended with a half, but its impact was diminished by the overall result having already been reached.

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