At last, the final competitive event of the 2019 calendar year has concluded. The Presidents Cup, played “Down Under” in Australia, pitted Team USA against the rest of the world minus Europe in this highly contested biennial international team competition.
Team USA, or rather Team Tiger, had to put on a final day full-court press to secure The Cup. As the final day of singles began, the U.S. was down by two points, 8-10, and needed a combined total of 15.5 to take the highly prized cup back to the U.S.A.
Both Presidents Cup captains, Ernie Els for the International team and Tiger for the U.S., were confident as the matches started out. In the President’s Cup, unlike the Ryder Cup, the captains decide who will play against whom. Captain Els was pretty certain on that final day that Tiger would want to go out early in the line-up so he would be available for his captain’s role, and he was matched up with Abraham Ancer. Ancer was born in the U.S. but grew up in Mexico and played for Mexico for the International team. He had been on fire all week and appeared to have the best chance to defeat a hot Tiger Woods.
Even though Tiger won his first two matches on Day One and Day Two, he chose to sit out both sessions on Day Three so no one really knew if he would be fully fit for the final Day Four singles matches. Speculation was running wild as to why Tiger would leave himself on the bench on Day Three. The stage was set. The U.S., trailing by two points going into the singles with 12 points at stake, needed to win seven and a half of them. Certainly, a Tiger win would inspire the U.S. team, while a defeat would certainly boost the International Team’s hopes.
As predicted, Tiger did pick himself to go out in that first match which remained close before Tiger came up huge with birdies on 14, 15, and 16 to close it out and show the rest of Team USA that they could make up the deficit. Now the International’s dream of winning their second Presidents Cup suddenly became more difficult and, in the end, Team USA recorded a 16-14 win total and retained The Cup but it was thrilling right down to the last two matches.
This was Tiger’s first captaincy and he really wanted to make his mark as a winning captain. Tiger was determined and focused and ready and, as it turned out, he was the only player on either team who won all of their matches. The three points he won made him the winningest player in the history of the Presidents Cup. Basking in the glory of this Presidents Cup victory, an emotional Tiger, with tears in his eyes, was quoted as saying, “I love playing with these guys as my teammates and couldn’t have a better group of guys to be captain for.”
This Presidents Cup had a little bit of everything. The crowds were tough on Patrick Reed after Reed’s rule infringement the week before at Tiger’s event, the Hero World Challenge. In fact, the situation got a little out of hand when Reed’s caddie and brother-in-law decided he had all he could take of the heckling and put his hands on one of the fans — a big no-no. The PGA Tour acted swiftly and informed Reed and his caddie that he was no longer welcome on the Royal Melbourne course and thus couldn’t caddie for the Day Four singles matches. But it was no problem for Reed, who put his swing coach on the bag. Reed’s victory over CT Pan in the singles gave the U.S. squad its first lead of the week.
I will leave you with two observations unique to Australia. The water in the toilet bowl spins in the opposite direction due to being in the Southern Hemisphere and in the month of December, the number of bothersome flies is absolutely incredible. Australia is still a beautiful country and if you ever get the chance to go, do it. I guarantee you will thank me.
I am very confident 2020 is going to be a great year in the world of golf. Until then, I’d like to send everyone best wishes for a very happy holiday.