Presidents Cup week filled with unforgettable momentsOctober 06, 2013
Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- What you may remember most about this Presidents Cup is the weather. In fact, it's probably raining again as you read this. Is it really supposed to be this bad in Central Ohio? Evidently not. It's been 20 years since the Columbus area has seen this much rain the first week of October.
No wonder International Captain Nick Price, in thanking Jack Nicklaus for his Muirfield Village hospitality on Sunday evening, had to mention the unrelenting conditions. "I'm sorry it rains here like it does," Price said to the Golden Bear. "I don't know what to say. I wish one day we would be able to control the weather somehow."
If anybody in golf can do that, it would be Jack.
Actually, he may have done it Sunday.
The forecast was bleak to start the final day of The Presidents Cup, and threats of a Monday finish had everybody scurrying to check their contingency plans and flight schedules. But the rain held off long enough to allow the U.S. and International teams to start early and finish their suspended Foursomes matches and full Singles matches.
And that brings us to the things you'll definitely remember about the 10th edition of The Presidents Cup.
Such as another U.S. win, the eighth in 10 Presidents Cups. The American firepower was on full display, led by the 1-2 punch of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson (you expected anything different?). Woods had the most points of any player this week, and clinched the Cup on Sunday with a 1-up win over South African Richard Sterne.
It's the third consecutive Presidents Cup that Woods has supplied the winning point. It will be the last time he does it for Captain Fred Couples, who said he will not take the reins for a fourth time in Korea in two years.
"A three-peat is good enough for me," Couples said.
You're probably asking why the world's top-ranked player was facing Sterne instead of, say, No. 2 Adam Scott. Everybody else was. Said NBC's Johnny Miller: “I was pretty shocked when he got Richard Sterne.”
When Sterne was announced as the first player for the No. 9 match in Singles, Couples had his choice of Woods, Mickelson, Keegan Bradley or Webb Simpson as the opponent. He opted for Woods, who evidently had mentioned something to his captain about the South African earlier in the week.
Given that the Americans were entering the Singles with a six-point lead, the Woods-Sterne match teetered on insignificance if the U.S. could take care of business early. But Price's gritty group won six of the first nine Singles. "We kept it very interesting," said Scott. That left Couples and his assistants to wonder just who would provide the winning point.
Mickelson was even told his match might be the decisive one. Given he was in the final pairing against Angel Cabrera, he was shocked, to say the least.
Meanwhile, Woods' back had flared up and he was wincing with every shot. If Tiger didn't get it done, the Americans would be on the verge of a Medinah-type collapse. The Europeans had blown them out in Singles a year ago. Would it happen again against the Internationals?
Tiger made sure it didn't. He won the 16th with a par, then matched Sterne's pars coming in. Crisis averted.
"I was at a point where I wasn't feeling my best coming down the stretch and happened to get a 1-up lead," Woods said. "I was just trying to hang on to that. Problem was, I wasn't feeling good."
He still was walking gingerly in the aftermath of the win but was certainly feeling better than the Internationals. They had come to Muirfield Village hoping to pull off the upset ... or at least make it competitive.
Until the Singles, it looked like the same old Internationals, a team that simply couldn't match the depth or experience of the Americans, particularly on foreign soil. But Price's team dug deep and found something to give them hope for the future -- namely a bunch of up-and-comers, such as Jason Day, Brendon de Jonge and Graham DeLaet.
The latter, a 31-year-old Canadian who has never won on the PGA TOUR, turned heads by holing out from off the green at the 18th hole twice on Sunday. You'll definitely remember that.
His emotion and excitement at Muirfield was reminiscent of Ian Poulter's influence on the European side. Maybe one day DeLaet, among seven Internationals playing in their first Presidents Cup, will have his Medinah-type moment.
"It's just tough to play as a rookie," said teammate Jason Day, "unless you're Graham here."
The Internationals didn't achieve their ultimate goal, but they played well enough on Sunday to give themselves hope. Hope that this competition is getting closer. Hope that their future is a bright one. Hope that Korea in two years will be the turning point.
"Our rally this week in a couple of the sessions, and particularly today, showed how much fight we've all got in us," Scott said. "We all wanted this badly."
Everybody wanted it badly this week. The two teams. The grounds crew, who fought through day after day of unrelenting rain to keep Muirfield Village in shape. The fans, who trudged through the mud, waited out the delays, and somehow kept having fun despite being soaked to the bone.
"The rain tried to put a damper on what this week was all about," said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. "But it didn't succeed."
The Americans ultimately succeeded the most, claiming The Presidents Cup for another two years. Fred Couples goes out a winner. Tiger Woods gets to rest his back. Sammy the Squirrel goes into hibernation. The Fresh Prince celebration goes into mothballs. Muirfield Village gets to clean up (well, if the rain ever ends). And Nick Price has the Internationals on the upswing.
Forget the rain. Those are the things worth remembering the most.