Tiger Woods found his putting groove to clinch the Presidents Cup for the United States, who held off a stiff challenge by the Internationals at Royal Melbourne Golf Club on Sunday.
The 14-times major champion notched six birdies in a crushing 4&3 win over Australia’s Aaron Baddeley to hand the Americans their fourth straight trophy with a total of 19 points to 15.
“It does feel good. I was hoping it wouldn’t come down to my point,” Woods said in a greenside interview after shutting the door on the 15th with a sublime bunker shot that landed a foot from the pin.
“We didn’t get off to a good start early … We needed to get our point. We went out there and played really well today and put a lot of heat on Badds (Baddeley).”
Woods’s victory was a repeat of 2009, when the former world number one stroked the winning putt against South Korea’s YE Yang at San Francisco to hand the United States their sixth Cup.
Leading the Internationals 13-9 going into the final day in sun-bathed Melbourne, the U.S. needed only five wins from the singles matches but were made to work hard.
The Internationals’ young brigade charged out of the blocks, with Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa a 3&2 winner over Bubba Watson before South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel edged Dustin Johnson 2&1.
Kim Kyung-tae beat Webb Simpson 1-up and Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy finished strongly with a 2-up win over Bill Haas.
Hunter Mahan and Nick Watney steadied the U.S. ship, however, before the old hands took over.
David Toms blasted Australia’s Robert Allenby 7&5 to leave the U.S. needing only two points to win, before Jim Furyk rolled in a five-foot putt to beat South African Ernie Els 4&3.
“I knew our guys would settle down,” said Couples, who won his second straight Cup over counterpart Greg Norman. “The old stand-bys at the end worked well.”
Woods credited team mate and renowned putting wizard Steve Stricker for helping him find his touch on the greens having not been able to buy a putt throughout the tournament.
The 35-year-old finished with a 2-3 record for the tournament having saved his best for last.
Following the American’s bunker shot, Baddeley needed to hole a monster putt to take the match to the 16th but never got close.
Australia’s Adam Scott earlier beat Phil Mickelson 2&1 but Stricker finished the tournament on a winning note for the U.S., edging Yang 2&1 in the final match.
“The guys stepped up to the plate, very very proud of them for doing that,” said Norman. “My team can hold their heads up extremely high. We’ll take a lot out of this tournament.”
Couples insisted motivating his players at the scene of the American team’s sole Cup loss in 1998 had not been a problem.
“They don’t really need any kicks in the rear,” he said.
“It’s a team of bombers and good putters. I was never concerned with all of this I heard about, that we’ll never get used to Royal Melbourne in a couple of practice rounds.
“We had some phenomenal scoring in what I think is very tough conditions. But the guys, we are different. They teamed up extremely well.”