By Associated Press
MELBOURNE, Australia — High emotions, fierce hugs from Tiger Woods, this time as a winner both ways in the Presidents Cup.
Woods capped off a big year that began with his 15th major at the Masters by playing and leading his U.S. team to another victory in the Presidents Cup on Dec. 15 at Royal Melbourne.
The first playing captain in 25 years, he opened the 12 singles matches by beating Abraham Ancer to set the Presidents Cup record with his 27th match victory, and set the tone for the rest of his team.
The scoreboard was filled with American red scores all day as they rallied from a two-point deficit to win the Presidents Cup for the eighth straight time against an International team that faltered at the worst time.
Matt Kuchar delivered the clinching putt, a 5-footer for birdie that assured him a halve against Louis Oosthuizen and gave the Americans the 15 1/2 points they needed to win. “For us to be in a hole, to come back and win this thing … to win it as a team, but to do it with Tiger Woods as our captain was just a huge thrill,” Kuchar said.
They result was 16-14, and at least this one was a contest. The U.S. victory two years ago at Liberty National was so resounding that it nearly ended on Dec. 14. International captain Ernie Els was determined to turn it around. He created a new logo for the International team. He relied heavily on analytics. It still wasn’t enough.
“I followed a plan, and it didn’t quite work out, but we came damn close,” Els said.
Woods hugged everyone hard, players and vice captains alike, wearing a smile not seen since he walked off the 18th green at Augusta National after becoming a Masters champion again after injuries that nearly ended his career.
Patrick Reed, whose caddie was benched for shoving a fan who had cursed Reed from close range, built a 6-up lead through seven holes before eventually putting away C.T. Pan to win for the first time last week. Webb Simpson, who played with Reed as they lost all three team matches, never trailed in beating Byeong Hun An. Everyone on the U.S. team contributed something.
With so much red on the board, Tony Finau might have been his team the biggest boost. He was 4 down through 10 holes against Hideki Matsuyama, won the next four holes and earned a half-point.
The Americans are 11-1-1 in the event. The only International victory was in 1998 at Royal Melbourne.