Sunday was coronation day at Liberty National. The 12th Presidents Cup was over long before the 12 singles matches between the United States and International started at noon local time. When it came to the deciding match, it wasn’t a question of “if?” but rather “by whom?” As it turned out, rookie Daniel Berger did the deed by beating the exuberant Si Woo Kim 2 and 1 to push the U.S. to 16 points with most of the matches still on the course.
The U.S. followed that with another three points to secure its seventh-straight Presidents Cup 19 to 11 over the Internationals. The victory moved the United States’ overall record to 10-1-1 and moved its record to 7-0-0 in its home country.
The International team, which actually played quite well in the singles matches, was once again overpowered by an abundance of American stars and superstars in the team portion. Not only did the bottom of the Internationals’ lineup not produce, but the top didn’t either. Its three-highest ranked players — Jason Day, Marc Leishman and Hideki Matsuyama — combined to go — and 2-8-4 on the week.
It’s almost impossible to single out who played best for the U.S. side. After posting the following scores in the team session, the U.S. players could have played left-handed on Sunday and feasibly still taken home the trophy.
- Thursday: USA wins foursomes 3.5-1.5
- Friday: USA wins four-ball 4.5-0.5
- Saturday morning: USA wins foursomes 3.5-0.5
- Saturday afternoon: USA wins four-ball 3-1
Dustin Johnson went undefeated with a 4-0-1 record and put 4.5 points on the board. Justin Thomas was everything you wanted him to be in a Player of the Year season. He put up 3.5 points and was America’s unofficial ambassador to the New York City faithful in attendance, riling up the lathered up crowds. Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed went 3-0-1 as a team.
Furthermore, Rickie Fowler played great, Kevin Kisner had 3.5 points, Phil Mickelson was again the soul of the American side and rookie Berger cinched it all up. It was everything we thought we would see from the U.S. and then some, and it could be a harbinger for what’s to come in American team golf.
“We have a dynamic here that’s different than I’ve seen,” Mickelson told Steve Sands of NBC. “These young guys are not only great players and fiercely competitive. They have a quality that has taken me decades to acquire. They are genuinely happy for each other’s success. That type of support for each other … brings about a really special energy and dynamic to this team.”
Back in 2014, after the U.S. lost the Ryder Cup to the Europeans at Gleneagles in embarrassing fashion, the same Mickelson tossed captain Tom Watson under the bus and backed over him. From that moment on, the U.S. has been intent on building something for the long haul for these team events. It created a task force, implemented an infrastructure and got lucky by hitting the jackpot with a group of young, powerful American-bred studs in Spieth, Reed, Berger, Fowler, Thomas and Brooks Koepka.
“They’ve really come together over the last couple of years,” said last year’s Ryder Cup captain and this year’s Presidents Cup assistant captain Davis Love III. “They support each other so much. That was the message to the last couple of teams. You guys get together and support each other. Don’t listen to the outside noise because they talk about how the Americans don’t care or don’t try. I’m proud of them for what they’ve done the last three cups. They’ve really changed the attitude for our U.S. team.”
This year’s Presidents Cup was simply a continuation of a long-term process. That doesn’t mean the U.S. will win ever Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup from now until forever. It does mean, however, that the future of international team golf for the red, white and blue hasn’t been this bright in decades. We saw that this week at Liberty National, and now the Europeans (and Paris) await — 51 weeks until the 2018 Ryder Cup.
Thanks for joining us.