Team USA weathers heated international fightback to win Presidents Cup

Team USA withstood an admirable fightback from the international team to win the 2022 Presidents Cup 17.5-12.5.

A contest that seemed almost over after two days turned into a mesmerizing spectacle as Trevor Immelman’s proteges threatened to achieve the impossible with a team decimated by departures from established tours to LIV Golf.

The hosts claimed 11 of the first 15 points as the typically one-sided affair threatened to turn embarrassing, before a 3-1 win on Saturday gave the Internationals a glimmer of hope at 11-7 and with 12 points still to play for .

In Sunday’s first singles match, a titanic battle between Justin Thomas and Si Woo Kim came to a head. There was no shortage of needles as the pair exchanged exuberant punches, but it came to a head when Thomas sarcastically gestured that he should have received a 2ft 7in putt to win the ninth.

In typical combative style, Kim birdied the front for the first time on the 16th before JT responded with a pinpoint approach to the penultimate hole. But it was Kim who landed the knockout blow, converting from 10 feet to deliver a much needed point for the international cause.

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In game two, Jordan Spieth scored the first point of the day for the hosts, picking up a first singles win in eight Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup appearances. He lost the first two holes to Cam Davis but rallied to level the match on the turn before winning four in a row from the 11th and sealing a perfect 5-0-0 record with a 4&3 triumph.

Patrick Cantlay then recorded a comfortable victory over Adam Scott, before Hideki Matsuyama and Sam Burns played an upside-down half that took the hosts within two points of lifting the cup for the ninth consecutive time.

In Game 5, Sebastian Munoz beat world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler 2&1 to keep his side’s slim hopes of defying the odds alive, with several games up in the air behind.

It would however be in vain as the duo of Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele finally saw the fiery return of the visitors. Finau trailed Taylor Pendrith by one with seven remaining but birdied four in six to win 3&1, while Schauffele had the honor of landing the winning putt by beating Corey Conners 1-up.

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With the contest decided but still plenty of pride to be played, wins for Sungjae Im, KH Lee and Christiaan Bezuidenhout took the Internationals final tally to 12.5, while Max Homa recovered from 3-down with seven to play to beat Tom Kim and Collin Morikawa beat Mito Pereira 3&2.

“They played very well,” said USA captain Davis Love III, before paying tribute to his opponents. “Trevor and his team did an incredible job of rising to the occasion, especially after the start they had on Thursday.

“I knew last night it was going to be four and four wasn’t a good number for either Ryder Cup team, it wasn’t a good number for the Solheim Cup team. I would have preferred it to be three and a half than four.

“But the guys have put in a lot of effort over the last three weeks and it’s been tough. It kind of becomes the offseason after the Tour Championship and they’ve come in ready to go.

“Fred, Steve, Webb, Zach and I are always amazed at how prepared these guys are and how hard they work.”

Michael C. Ford