With a victory over Europe the previous fall in the Ryder Cup and a collection of players on a roll, the USA Team came into the 12th Presidents Cup with a ton of momentum and confidence. Not surprisingly, the Americans played like a “juggernaut” as International Team captain Nick Price called them, and swept to an easier-than-expected 19-11 victory Oct. 1 at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J.
The margin of victory was third-largest since the series begun in 1994 as the USA won its seventh in a row and 10th overall compared to one loss and a tie, the latter coming in 2003, the last time USA didn’t celebrate a victory. That U.S. team was led by Memorial Tournament founder and host Jack Nicklaus, who went on to captain two winning teams in 2005 and '07.
“It was just about getting out of their way and let them perform,” said USA captain Steve Stricker, a past winner of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. “They came in here riding a ton of momentum and a ton of confidence. They played unbelievably well.”
The American team featured three major champions – Brooks Koepka in the U.S. Open, Jordan Spieth in the Open Championship and Justin Thomas in the PGA Championship – and the No. 1 player in the world in Dustin Johnson. Only two members hadn’t won an event in 2017 – captain’s picks Charley Hoffman and five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, who kept alive his streak of playing in every Presidents Cup.
With No. 3 Hideki Matsuyama, another former Memorial winner, leading a veteran team, Price felt his team was poised to break the American lock on the Cup, especially after pushing USA to the limit in South Korea two years earlier, falling a point short. Instead, the American’s pushed around the visiting squad with surprising ease.
So overwhelming was the United States in team play that they led 14 ½ to 3 ½ through Saturday, meaning they needed just one point out of 12 singles matches on Sunday to retain the Cup. Rookie Daniel Berger did the honors when he defeated Si Woo Kim, 2 and 1.
“You dream of moments like this to be able to clinch the winning point for your American side,” Berger said, “but it was a team effort.”
Dustin Johnson led the American side with a 4-0-1 record after halving his singles match with Branden Grace of South Africa, who had gone a perfect 5-0 in 2015 in Korea. Johnson became the 20th player in the event’s history to go unbeaten, pairing with Matt Kuchar for two foursomes wins and Koepka for a pair of four-ball victories.
Mickelson was 3-0-1 for the week, the second straight time he went unbeaten – both as a captain’s pick no less – and the fourth time overall. His victory, in his 100th match in the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup combined, was his 26th, a record for either team.
Also unbeaten for USA were Rickie Fowler, 3-0-1, and rookie Kevin Kisner, who went 2-0-2, with two wins and a tie paired with Mickelson. Fowler posted the day’s biggest singles victory, 6 and 4, over International rookie Emiliano Grillo in the 30th and final match. Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth went 3-0-1 as a tandem, and improved to 8-2-2 overall.
Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa led the International Team with 2.5 points
“We struggled in the team aspect of the matches this week. But we also played maybe the most on-form United States Team that I can remember,” Adam Scott said. “I think we went up against one of the best teams that's been put forward, and I think we have to do even more [to prepare] before we play again in two years.”
The matches next will be held in Australia. The 13th Presidents Cup is scheduled for December 9-15, 2019 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Australia, the site of the only International Team win in 1998.