CHARLOTTE — The United States team clinched the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Club on Sunday with a five-point lead over their International rivals.
Going into Saturday’s fourth-round afternoon tee times, the United States held a sizable 10-4 lead over the International team, only needing 15.5 points to win. For the International team to have any shot on the final round Sunday, they would need a strong performance in the afternoon rounds.
A strong afternoon push is what the Internationals needed.
And that’s exactly what they got — taking three out of the four points available and narrowing the scoreline to 11-7, keeping them within striking distance of the American team with final-round singles matches to be played.
Sunday’s singles pairings featured the Americans making the traditional move of leading off with their heavy hitters Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas — both undefeated for the week at 4-0-0 — and looking to achieve the rare feat of finishing a Presidents Cup week 5-0-0, which has only been done five times since the inception of this event in 1994.
Accomplishing this feat would place the two Americans in special company, joining American golfing legend Tiger Woods.
Some conversation has been had around the choice by International team Captain Trevor Immelman to place youngster Tom Kim — who had arguably the strongest play for the International side on Saturday, draining some big putts in dramatic fashion and securing two much-needed points for the International side throughout the day.
The rookie has become somewhat of a crowd favorite, winning the hearts of not only the International fans but also the USA crowd with his strong play and crowd interactions. This is an away match for the International team and the 20-year-old from Seoul, South Korea, receives cheers which equal — and at times even beat out — some of the American players.
Despite the strong Saturday play by the International team, the United States simply carried too much firepower this week with home team taking the 4.5 needed points out of the first seven matches to secure the Presidents Cup on Sunday afternoon — winning four matches and tying one match with Xander Schauffele sinking the tournament-winning putt on the 18th hole to win his match 1-up against Corey Conners.
Notably, Spieth had a shaky start to his singles match on Sunday, bogeying the first two holes of his round and going two down to International Cam Davis before finding his form — including four consecutive birdies on the back nine — to win his match and make history as the third American and sixth player to ever achieve the feat of winning every match of the event, going 5-0-0.
Thomas, his friend and fellow playing partner through most of the week, had the opposite start but saw his chances at also making his own history joining his friend with a 5-0-0 finish, losing his lead-off match to International Si Woo Kim.
American winners in Sunday’s singles matches to secure the Presidents Cup include Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Schauffele, Collin Morikawa and Max Homa, with Sam Burns halving his match.
The United States finished the Presidents Cup with 17.5 points and the International team with 12.5.