Print and Go Back Presidents Cup 2009 [Print without images]

Sunday, October 11, 2009
Updated: October 12, 12:48 PM ET
Woods, Mickelson earn top honors

By Jason Sobel

SAN FRANCISCO -- Any time there are no multiple-choice questions or an answer key, grades can be very subjective.

Such is the case with the following Presidents Cup report card.

Sure, players' individual records will stand as their indelible marks on the 2009 edition of this event, but in many respects they don't tell the entire story. Let's examine how each player and captain fared, from A to F.

United States International
Tiger Woods

Player: Tiger Woods
Record: 5-0-0
Sobel's Grade: A

Analysis: Sure, he was carried by partner Steve Stricker at times during their four team matches -- especially Saturday -- but the world's No. 1-ranked player hit both the defining shot of the week and the Cup-clinching putt while compiling his first unblemished record in this format.

Tim Clark

Player: Tim Clark
Record: 2-2-1
Sobel's Grade: A-

Analysis: The guy captain Greg Norman referred to as his "bulldog" may not have cleaned up in the win column, but swept in more than his fair share of putts thanks to that broomstick putter. Clark posted eight birdies in 15 holes Sunday; if this was a regular PGA Tour event, he may have made a bid for his first career win.

Phil Mickelson

Player: Phil Mickelson
Record: 4-0-1
Sobel's Grade: A

Analysis: To find back-to-back events in which Mickelson made such an impact, we have to look all the way back to April 2006. Fresh off a victory in the Tour Championship two weeks ago, Lefty's new forward-press putting stroke is working wonders. He hasn't lost a Presidents Cup match on U.S. soil since 2000.

Ryo Ishikawa

Player: Ryo Ishikawa
Record: 3-2-0
Sobel's Grade: B+

Analysis: The future is now. Norman tabbed this 18-year-old with one of his two captain's picks and the kid didn't disappoint, looking like a composed veteran throughout the proceedings. Not to get too carried away, but Ryo could break all the Presidents Cup records someday, possibly competing in the next 15 editions of this event.

Steve Stricker

Player: Steve Stricker
Record: 4-1-0
Sobel's Grade: A-

Analysis: When asked about his partner for all four team matches, Woods succinctly summed up Stricker's performance in four short words: "He was a stud." Known as one of the game's strongest putters, the Wisconsin native proved that once again. Even in his lone defeat Sunday, Stricker was under par for the round.

Vijay Singh

Player: Vijay Singh
Record: 2-0-3
Sobel's Grade: B+

Analysis: The only undefeated player on the International team may have posted another win if not for conceding a halve to Glover in singles -- whether he meant to or not.

"I'm not sure he knew what the score was," Glover said, "because he came up afterwards and said, 'I didn't know that was for a halve. I thought I was 1 up.'"

Jim Furyk

Player: Jim Furyk
Record: 2-2-1
Sobel's Grade: B+

Analysis: The six-time Presidents Cup veteran holed a ton of big-time birdie putts throughout the first three days of competition. In Saturday's four-balls win with Kim, he won five holes while his teammate didn't take any. Tough to fault him for a singles loss in the anchor match once the overall result was already decided.

Ernie Els

Player: Ernie Els
Record: 3-2-0
Sobel's Grade: B

Analysis: For those who haven't been paying much attention, Els has looked like the Big Easy of old in recent months and that translated into this event, as well. He's finally starting to look comfortable over those 8-10-foot putts that have been his bugaboo the past few years, though a final-day thrashing from O'Hair hurt the cause.

Hunter Mahan

Player: Hunter Mahan
Record: 2-1-1
Sobel's Grade: B

Analysis: Fred Couples called on Mahan in the all-important opening singles match Sunday. "When they put me out first," he said, "I needed to set the tone." He failed to do that early, starting bogey-bogey, but came from behind to hold off Camilo Villegas and, yes, set the tone.

Y.E. Yang

Player: Y.E. Yang
Record: 2-2-1
Sobel's Grade: B-

Analysis: Just after defeating Tiger in the final round of the PGA Championship, he said, "As far as the question concerning the rematch, never again. I would like to stay as the guy who won over Tiger at the PGA Championship, and that's about it. No redos." No such luck. Yang ran into TW twice -- and this time lost 'em both.

Stewart Cink

Player: Stewart Cink
Sobel's Grade: B

Analysis: The record isn't indicative of his performance, as the reigning British Open champ never received much help in the team matches. When left to fend for himself, he posted the first full point on the board in singles, never trailing in the Sunday session's second match against Adam Scott.

Robert Allenby

Player: Robert Allenby
Record: 2-2-1
Sobel's Grade: B-

Analysis: Truth be told, he was the better player in two matches with Vijay Singh and one with Geoff Ogilvy -- each higher-ranked players -- carrying them to 2.5 points in those three pairings. The major flaw in Allenby's game over the years has been the flatstick, but he looked good on the greens this week.

Justin Leonard

Player: Justin Leonard
Record: 2-1-2
Sobel's Grade: B

Analysis: If the Americans lost by a single point, there's a good chance Leonard would be spending some sleepless nights thinking about the missed 3-footer to win Thursday's foursomes match. Instead, he battled back to play steady -- if not stellar -- golf for the last three days, including an inspired halve in singles.

Mike Weir

Player: Mike Weir
Record: 2-2-1
Sobel's Grade: C+

Analysis: It wasn't quite a repeat performance of two years ago, when he wowed the Canadian galleries with a 3-1-1 record and a singles victory over Woods, but the gritty competitor once again displayed his toughness, playing three matches that went down to the final hole.

Sean O'Hair

Player: Sean O'Hair
Record: 2-2-1
Sobel's Grade: B

Analysis: What a wild week for the rookie. It began by losing what he called "a lot of money" to Michael Jordan in a practice round, continued with poor play in losses on Thursday and Friday, brightened with a win and halve paired with Mickelson on Saturday and ended with a thrashing of Els on Sunday.

Geoff Ogilvy

Player: Geoff Ogilvy
Record: 2-2-0
Sobel's Grade: C

Analysis: The leading point-getter for the International team through the qualifying system hardly lived up to advanced billing. Yes, he once again proved his worth as an individual match-play competitor, besting Stricker on Sunday, but with a teammate the Aussie is now 2-5-0 in two appearances at this event.

Zach Johnson

Player: Zach Johnson
Record: 2-3-0
Sobel's Grade: B-

Analysis: The former Masters champ has matured into one of the team's more dependable and -- more importantly -- malleable players, as he can be paired with virtually anyone else on the roster. His singles round -- in which he finished 3-3-3-3-3-2-3 -- would have been enough to beat nearly any opponent not named Clark.

Angel Cabrera

Player: Angel Cabrera
Record: 1-3-0
Sobel's Grade: D+

Analysis: His singles match victory over Furyk salvaged an otherwise winless week, but it was too little, too late as the Cup was clinched by the Americans just shortly after they made the turn. In partnered matches, he just never got on one of those hot streaks that propelled him to two major victories.

Anthony Kim

Player: Anthony Kim
Record: 3-1-0
Sobel's Grade: B-

Analysis: Had to double- and triple-check the record here, but it's true: Kim really won three matches this week. Then again, that mark is a little deceiving, as he rode the coattails of Mickelson and Furyk in a pair of team matches. AK absolved himself on Sunday, though, with a second convincing singles win in two years of team competition.

Retief Goosen

Player: Retief Goosen
Record: 0-3-1
Sobel's Grade: D

Analysis: The two-time U.S. Open champ has a tendency to blend into the background, whether he's winning or losing. As such, he may not have bore the brunt of criticism directed toward the International team's play, but Goosen lost each of his final three matches, never once even seeing the 18th hole.

Kenny Perry

Player: Kenny Perry
Record: 1-3-0
Sobel's Grade: C

Analysis: Competing with a heavy heart just one week after his mother passed away, Perry nonetheless offered up perhaps the best quote of the week following a singles loss to Ishikawa, who is 31 years his junior. "I'm retired," he said after a 2 and 1 defeat. "He sent me right into retirement, that kid."

Camilo Villegas

Player: Camilo Villegas
Record: 0-4-0
Sobel's Grade: F

Analysis: The match-play format should have been perfectly suited for this Presidents Cup rookie, who has been known to offset bunches of red numbers with one or two big ones in stroke-play rounds. Instead, he pulled an 0-fer. As Villegas said to fans while sitting out Saturday's four-balls session, "I'm better at watching than playing, man."

Lucas Glover

Player: Lucas Glover
Record: 0-3-1
Sobel's Grade: D-

Analysis: The lone American who failed to win a match, the U.S. Open champ looked tired and out of sorts throughout the week. Perhaps there's good reason for this, as he followed his triumph at Bethpage by competing in seemingly every tourney throughout the remainder of the year.

Adam Scott

Player: Adam Scott
Record: 1-4-0
Sobel's Grade: F

Analysis: He won an opening foursomes match with Els … but it was all downhill from there for Scott, who instead of stepping up this week looked maddeningly like the same player we've seen drop from No. 3 in the world to outside the top 50. Clearly his game -- and his mental approach -- needs a major overhaul.

Fred Couples

Captain: Fred Couples
Sobel's Grade: A

Analysis: Conventional wisdom has long maintained that there isn't much work for a captain and Freddie simply got out of the way and let his guys do their thing.

"[With] Tiger Woods, you put red shirts on Sunday. I like tan and white, we did that one day. I like gray, we did that," said Couples, who never even stayed plugged into the matches with earphones during the week. "[Assistant captain] Jay [Haas] and I the first day, we made the pairings in about three seconds. You know, it's easy."

He may be best remembered for including basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan in the team room -- a move that may not have helped, but certainly didn't hurt camaraderie.

Greg Norman

Captain: Greg Norman
Sobel's Grade: C+

Analysis: Really, his fate was sealed on Sept. 8, one month before the event, when Norman named Scott as one of his wild card selections. The move was either going to pay off and make him look like a genius or it would backfire and he'd be forever second-guessed. As we found out, it was the latter.

Toss in a few sketchy strategic moves -- sitting Ogilvy in foursomes and Villegas in four-balls were each curious maneuvers -- and the Shark never seemed to have the golden touch.

Then again, if his team had played better, he would have been hailed as the hero.

Jason Sobel is a golf blogger for He can be reached at