It was nearly a replay of the 2012 Ryder Cup. Even though the Americans carried a dominating 14-8 lead into Sunday’s President’s Cup finale, the International squad was staging a furious comeback, and suddenly captain Fred Couples had to check the match lists to see where the clinching fourth point could come from.
As if there were any doubt, he needed only to look for Tiger Woods.
Credit is, of course, due to Zach Johnson, who was one of only four Americans to win their Sunday singles match. Johnson’s 4&2 victory over Branden Grace gave the United States side the 17th point, which guaranteed at least a split of the contest and American retention of the cup. With Couples captaining his final President’s Cup, though, the team was looking for more.
If Woods’s match with relatively unknown Richard Sterne wasn’t the highlight pairing that fans and media were looking for, it certainly became the focus of the event as the day went on. The world No. 1 struggled to separate from Sterne for much of the round, with each player only giving up one hole on the front nine.
Even though Woods said after the match that his sore back, which has nagged him much of this year, acted up down the stretch, his par on the 16th hole gave him a one-up lead that he would not relinquish.
“To have the opportunity to win the Cup for (captain) Freddie (Couples) and all the guys on the team, it means a lot to me,” Woods told USA TODAY. “I’m a little bit sore, and certainly I’m looking forward to not touching a club for a while.”
Even though the new PGA Tour season starts this week at the Frys.com Open, Woods isn’t scheduled for another competition until an exhibition against Rory McIlroy later this month in China.
Woods, who went 4-1 this week and is the winningest player in President’s Cup history, should hopefully carry some of this momentum into next year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. His pairing with Matt Kuchar was a great fit, but more than anything, it’s important for the entire team to know that the world’s best is still able to rise to the occasion in an important match.