American dominance continues at Presidents Cup
02 OCT 2017
By Dave Kaplan
It was a case of Yankee Doodle domination last week in New Jersey!
The American squad won its seventh consecutive Presidents Cup, and tenth overall, by drubbing the International team to a tune of 19 to 11 — a score that does not quite accurately reflect the landslide of a golf tournament that just transpired at Liberty National.
The tournament quickly got out of hand after the Americans took a commanding 8 to 2 lead into the weekend following a near-sweep of four-ball play on Friday afternoon. The U.S. did not take its foot off the gas pedal from there. On Saturday, the Americans team won six of its eight matches to increase its lead to 11 points (14.5 to 3.5), which effectively extinguished any hopes of a comeback that the International team and its fans might have had.
To its credit, the International squad did make a slight whimper on Sunday, winning six of the 12 remaining matches. However, all of those victories came after Kevin Chappell and Daniel Berger had already clinched the cup for the American side with a half-point and a victory earlier in the afternoon.
It was the U.S.’s largest margin of victory since 2000, when the Yankees annihilated the International squad by a score of 20.5 to 11.5. And if more than a total of one point had been on the line for the Americans in Sunday’s anti-climactic finale, you can bet that last week’s tournament would have been the most lopsided Presidents Cup result ever.
With the tournament practically in the bag, the Americans appeared to lose some of their competitive edge in the final round. Patrick Reed certainly admitted as much to reporters after Sunday’s finale, explaining that:
“It was definitely a different challenge, being as far ahead as we were, only needing one point to clinch and being kind of in the middle of the pack of the groups going out. You knew that probably by the time you make the turn, it’s already going to be done. We only needed one point, and so I think it just kind of took out some of the adrenaline and a lot of the excitement that normally comes with the team events.”
To be honest, Sunday’s foregone conclusion of a finale was not exactly a thrilling tournament to watch from home either. It seemed to slog on forever and all of the remaining action became inconsequential the moment that Berger sealed the cup for the Americans three-quarters of the way through the broadcast.
However, it was a treat to see the Americans firing on all cylinders for the first three days of the tournament.
The dynamic and youthful duo of Reed and Jordan Spieth picked up right where they had left off at Hazeltine a year ago and went on to tally an impressive 3-0-1 record for the week at Liberty National. The tandem, now 8-1-3 when playing together at the Ryder and Presidents Cups over the course of their careers, has become the Americans’ default 1-2 punch in recent years. If they can continue their winning ways over the next several years, that will have a great chance at becoming the most successful duo in the history of both events.
We also saw another pair of formidable American teammates emerge in Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas, who racked up a 2-0-1 record while playing together last week. Fowler had not fared well in the team format over the course of his Ryder/Presidents Cup career prior to last week, having accrued a combined 2-6-3 record with Reed, Phil Mickelson and Jimmy Walker as his former partners. However, Fowler looked like a different player alongside JT and the duo proved to be as unbeatable throughout the week as Reed and Spieth.
“Rickie is one of the foundational players for the U.S. side going forward, and we haven’t found his partner that he feels invincible with,” Mickelson told reporters after the U.S.’s victory on Sunday. “He and Justin — if they can continue this and carry this momentum, I think it’s going to be something to look at for generations to come.”
Mickelson made the roster as a captain’s pick and played extremely well in his 12th — and likely, final — Presidents Cup appearance. The Southpaw finished 2-0-1 in the team-play format and won his singles match against Canadian Adam Hadwin on Sunday to improve his accumulative Presidents Cup record to 23-16-12.
There were a lot of extremely impressive performances on the American side last week, but none were as notable as Dustin Johnson’s. The top-ranked player in the world participated in all five matches at the Presidents Cup and posted a tournament-best 4-0-1 record to secure a total of 4.5 points for his team.
In total, 10 of the 12 Americans finished the week with winning records and every member of the team contributed at least one point to the victory. Incredibly, not a single player on the International team finished the week with a winning record!
Dave Kaplan is a Toronto-based freelance writer and golf fanatic who is sneaky long off the tee. He’s on a crusade to inject a youthful perspective into golf media, especially the broadcast booth. Follow him on Twitter @davykap