U.S. retains Presidents Cup; Weir tops Woods
The International team was at a loss to explain why it was beaten so soundly by the Americans as the Presidents Cup came to a close on Sunday.
But playing only a one hour drive to the U.S. border on the Internationals' turn to host the event didn't give them full home-course advantage at Royal Montreal in Ile Bizard, Que.
The only International success at the event so far was a one-sided win in Australia in 1998 and a 17-17 draw in South Africa in 2003. They lost four times in the United States.
The Americans are now 5-1-1 since the first Presidents Cup in 1994.
"The two tournaments where we did well in were in the south," said Els. "You've got to read something into that.
"Maybe we should have more say in where our home matches go."
The 2009 Presidents Cup is in San Francisco, while the 2011 event will return to Melbourne.
Captain Gary Player suggested that in future the event should be used to promote golf in new regions, like China, India and Eastern Europe.
The final score of 19.5-14.5 for the United States looked closer than it should have, as the Americans went into the final day of singles matches with a commanding 14.5-7.5 lead, needing only three wins in 12 matches to clinch the tournament.
"Obviously, they played a lot better than we did," said Trevor Immelman, the South African who was 0-3-1 in foursomes, four-ball and singles play. "It's a little disappointing for our team.
"We feel we're good enough to compete and we came here and they dominated us right from the start."
Immelman's team is ranked higher overall than the Americans, with nine players in the world's top-20 compared to five for the U.S., who nonetheless have the top three in Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk.
The Internationals, made up of non-U.S. players from everywhere except Europe, dug themselves a big hole by earning only one half-point in 11 foursomes (alternate shot) matches on Thursday and Saturday — and that half-point was conceded by Phil Mickelson to Weir's pairing at the suggestion of captain Jack Nicklaus.
The Internationals actually beat the U.S. for the first time in singles, going 8-4, and had a 6-3-2 edge in better ball play.
"I think the guys did really well," said two-time U.S. Open winner Ernie Els of South Africa. "We won the better ball but got trounced in foursomes.
"It's like a cricket match. We only had a couple of bad sessions, but they scored 1,000 runs."
"The foursomes were a big problem, obviously," added Australian Nick O'Hern, who was beaten six-and-four in singles by hot-putting Stewart Cink to go 1-4 for the event. "We didn't play as well as we could have, and take nothing away from the Americans.
"They played fantastic golf. I played well this week and I lost four matches. I ran into Stewart Cink and he was eight-under after 14 holes. That's hard to beat, that."
Crowdrallies behind Weir
While most of the large galleries cheered for Mike Weir of Bright's Grove, Ont., and the International side, the Americans had plenty of supporters as well.
"I think that's one of the reasons we wanted to get Mike against Tiger," O'Hern said of the gripping final-day singles encounter, won by Weir on the last hole. "I played against Tiger [on Saturday] and there were probably more cheers for him than for us.
"We felt like we were away. But that's understandable. He's the No. 1 player in the world and everyone's going to support him. Mike playing him got the crowd back on our side. He's a phenonemal player and Mike did all of Canada proud."
Another theory has it that the Internationals don't represent a defined place, like the U.S. and Europe in the Ryder Cup.
Singh saw it from another angle.
"I think they're comfortable with us," he said. "We play on the U.S. Tour. "Most of our friends are American. We play practice rounds with these guys. When they play the European side, they don't know half the [players], how they play, how they interact."
But even Singh, who was flattened five-and-four by Mickelson on Sunday, doesn't claim to have a definitive answer.
"I suggested that from now on we should play foursomes in practice rounds on Tour," he said with a grin. "We had a great team on paper.
"We are just much stronger than the American team, but we didn't have it in foursomes. I don't know why."