The United States polished off a 19-11 Presidents Cup win on Sunday over a battling International team whose fate was sealed over three punishing prior days. Victory was in the bag when Daniel Berger went 3-up with three to play against South Korean Kim Si-Woo — assuring himself of at least half a point to go with the half-point gained by Kevin Chappell against Marc Leishman in the first match of the day.
By the time Berger wrapped up his 2 & 1 victory over Kim, victories for Aussie Jason Day and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama were irrelevant and it was certain that US President Donald Trump would be presenting the trophy to the home side on Sunday evening.
Trump arrived at Liberty National Golf Club — which lies in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty some 30 miles from his home at his Trump National Bedminster resort — just in time to see the Americans seal the win.
He watched from the glass-walled clubhouse at the 14th green, before becoming the first sitting US president to present the trophy. “What a feeling,” said Berger, who was informed by US captain Steve Stricker at the 16th that the United States had clinched it.
The Americans set themselves up for a stress-free Sunday by thrashing the internationals over 18 foursomes and fourball matches — allowing them just two wins over the first three days. The US led by 11 points overnight and needed just a point on Sunday to claim a seventh straight Cup.
“They came in here riding a ton of momentum and a ton of confidence,” Stricker said of his players, who included the winners of the last three major championships.”It was about getting out of their way.”
World number one Dustin Johnson halved his final match with South African Branden Grace long after the Cup was decided. “It was really weird being out there today, like knowing there was no chance of losing,” Johnson said. “I don’t know how to explain it but it was like I was playing golf with my buddies or something.” Patrick Reed also felt the lack of the usual Sunday adrenaline. “It was different but at the same time it was kind of satisfying,” he said, “because of how well we played leading into today.”
The Internationals, who won their only title back in 1998 and played to a draw in 2003, were hoping for more after a narrow defeat in South Korea two years ago. “This team had more buzz going for it at the start of this week than any other team I’ve ever been on,” said International captain Nick Price. “We thought we had a great game plan, but unfortunately it just didn’t pan out for us.”
In the end their only satisfaction was denying the US bid to become the first team to win every session. The Internationals won six matches on Sunday and halved three. Price admitted his team “had our noses rubbed in it this week” but praised their rebound on Sunday, which assistant captain Ernie Els showed “serious character”.
World number three Matsuyama, noticeably out-of-sorts over the first three days, produced a 3 & 1 victory over US star Justin Thomas — who out-gunned him in the final round of the PGA Championship in August.
Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela defeated British Open champion Jordan Spieth 2 & 1 — Spieth’s third singles defeat in three Presidents Cup appearances. Among the US winners on the final day, five-time major-winner Phil Mickelson downed Canadian Adam Hadwin 2 & 1 in his 100th match for the United States in Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup play.
United States 19 International team 11
USA 4.5 Internationals 7.5
Kevin Chappell (USA) vs Marc Leishman (AUS) halved
Jason Day (AUS) bt Charley Hoffman (USA) 2 & 1
Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) bt Justin Thomas (USA) 3 & 1
Daniel Berger (USA) bt Kim Si-Woo (KOR) 2 & 1
Charl Schwartzel (RSA) bt Matt Kuchar (USA) 1-up
Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) bt Patrick Reed (USA) 1-up
Dustin Johnson (USA) vs Branden Grace (RSA) halved
Adam Scott (AUS) bt Brooks Koepka (USA) 3 & 2
Jhonattan Vegas (VEN) bt Jordan Spieth (USA) 2 & 1
Kevin Kisner (USA) vs Anirban Lahiri (IND) halved
Phil Mickelson (USA) bt Adam Hadwin (CAN) 2 & 1
Rickie Fowler (USA) bt Emiliano Grillo (ARG) 6 & 4
The United States team celebrate with the trophy after they defeated the International Team 19 to 11 in the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey, on Sunday. (AFP)