Handing out Presidents Cup awards
And what was the difference-maker in Team USA's fifth consecutive victory?
At one point Sunday morning, the only question about the outcome of the Presidents Cup was who would actually earn the clinching point for the Americans. That changed as the day went on with a furious International team rally, but the U.S. still prevailed in the biennial matches.
So how did the Americans pull off the victory? And who should earn MVP honors?
Our scribes tackle those topics and more in this week's special edition of Presidents Cup Monday Four-Ball.
1. What made the difference in Team USA's victory?
Presidents Cup rosters
Rosters for the U.S. and International teams as they battled at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio:
|Capt: Fred Couples||Capt: Nick Price|
|Keegan Bradley||Angel Cabrera|
|Jason Dufner||Jason Day|
|Bill Haas||Brendon de Jonge|
|Zach Johnson||Graham DeLaet|
|Matt Kuchar||Ernie Els|
|Hunter Mahan||Branden Grace|
|Phil Mickelson||Marc Leishman|
|Webb Simpson||Hideki Matsuyama|
|Brandt Snedeker||Louis Oosthuizen|
|Jordan Spieth||Charl Schwartzel|
|Steve Stricker||Adam Scott|
|Tiger Woods||Richard Sterne|
|Presidents Cup: Pairings, results|
|More coverage: Championship Central|
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Zach Johnson. The fact that he went 3-1 when he didn't even arrive on the property until late Tuesday afternoon because of how sick he was speaks volumes about his gritty ability. Without him, the team just would not have won.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: I don't want to oversimplify it, but the U.S. team made more birdies and had more depth. They were the better team. You can talk about the pairings and the weather, but the U.S. had seven out of the top 11-ranked players in the world on its roster, and only one of its players, Jordan Spieth, had never been in either a Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Putting. As is typically the case, the winning team holes more putts at crucial times. For whatever reason, this works in reverse for the U.S. at the Ryder Cup.
Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Depth. Every single American earned at least two points, which is amazing. Top to bottom, the U.S. team posted victories. On the flip side, the International team had two golfers -- Branden Grace and Richard Sterne -- who went 0-4-0. A couple of victories for that pair of South Africans and we might have been talking about the first U.S. loss on home soil in Presidents Cup history.
2. Who was the biggest surprise for each team at the Presidents Cup?
Michael Collins: Jason Dufner and Graham DeLaet. You always wonder how a guy with an outward personality like Duf's is going to jell in a team format, but according to Tiger, he was the funniest guy in the team room. Then to go 3-1 was just the icing on the cake. DeLaet was so wide-eyed at the Tour Championship I just didn't know if he'd get too amped up like most rookies do in these situations. Last time I doubt a hockey player!
Farrell Evans: I didn't know much about Graham DeLaet's game until this week. By Sunday evening I had learned enough to know that with his 3-1-1 record, including a 1 up win over Jordan Spieth in the singles, he is going to be a force to be reckoned with on the PGA Tour and in future Presidents Cups.
On the U.S. side, I was impressed with Tiger Woods, who looked tired by the end of the FedEx Cup playoffs. With a 4-1 record, he looked recharged, focused and his game was in good form. He played like the best player in the world should in a match-play competition.
Bob Harig: Bill Haas for the United States, Graham DeLaet for the Internationals. Even though Haas' record was just 2-2-1, he played some excellent golf and simply got clipped by Adam Scott in singles. DeLaet, a Presidents Cup rookie, went 3-1-1 with numerous clutch shots.
Kevin Maguire: For Team USA, it was Steve Stricker. Coming off his Ryder Cup heartbreak a year ago and a few hours west of Muirfield Village, Stricker really took to the role of veteran as he guided 20-year-old Jordan Spieth throughout the week. On the International side, who would have guessed that Canadian Graham DeLaet would tie for the team lead in points at 3.5? His chip-in birdie at the 18th hole early Sunday morning might have been the most pure emotional expression by anyone in these matches.
3. Who was the MVP of each team?
Michael Collins: For the International team, Jason Day and DeLaet were co-MVP's carrying that team when they needed it most. On the U.S. side, only one guy went 4-1 and won the point that sealed the victory. Might be old to some people that he's always out front, but it ain't old to me, Tiger Woods.
Farrell Evans: For the International team, Graham DeLaet. The 31-year-old Canadian posted a 3-1-1 record and handled himself like a veteran. In the singles, he holed a bunker shot to win his match 1 up over Jordan Spieth. For Team USA, Tiger Woods. His 4-1 record was the best of any player in the matches.
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Bob Harig: For the U.S., you have to go with Tiger. He went 4-1, the only player to win four matches. If it were so simple, he'd do it more often. He also had the winning point. For the Internationals, I'd again go with DeLaet. He played nicely.
Kevin Maguire: Tiger Woods on the American side and Jason Day for the Internationals. Woods posted four victories -- the most of anyone this week -- to lead the U.S. again and amazingly earn the clinching point for Team USA in the third straight Presidents Cup. For Day, playing well in front of a home crowd -- the Aussie lives in central Ohio -- often proves difficult, but he managed it with great aplomb to post a 3-1-1 mark.
4. What will you remember most about this Presidents Cup (besides rain)?
Michael Collins: I'll remember that even though they flipped the order or foursomes and four-balls, the International team still lost every session until Sunday singles. I'll remember that right when they started getting momentum, something would happen on one hole and it seemed like every other match would flip at the same time.
Farrell Evans: I shall never forget Davis Love III befriending a baby squirrel during Thursday's first session matches and treating it like a pet. It was an odd thing that not even I had ever witnessed.
Bob Harig: Foursomes. It remains amazing how much the International side struggles at the format. They led all five of the matches at one point on Saturday afternoon and ended up losing the session 3½ to 1½. That turnaround led to a comfortable lead for the Americans.
Kevin Maguire: I'm tempted to say Sammy the Squirrel but I won't go there. As for on the course, it would have to be the energy and emotion showed between Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. Assuming U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson was watching these matches, I'd have to think he's got those guys penciled in as playing partners next fall in Scotland.
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