The final margin – a decisive five-point knockout by the heavyweight American team – wasn’t at all surprising. But it was a little deceiving.
Despite everything stacked against it, the International team put up a spirited fight in the Presidents Cup. After falling behind 9-2, Trevor Immelman’s International squad seemed ready for its obituary. NBC was in danger of nobody tuning in for a wipeout on the weekend, with dead men walking the Green Mile.
But then Tom Kim happened. The 20-year-old emotional sparkplug secured a foursomes split with partner K.H. Lee with a rally to beat Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns. Then he led off a four-balls charge with an 18th-hole birdie that lit a fire with his cap-slam eruption as the underdogs claimed five of the last seven points Saturday to give them a puncher’s chance down by four heading into the singles.
Ultimately, Davis Love III’s U.S. team was simply too deep and too strong to wilt, but the show was better than advertised and the stage was special.
BIRDIE: Jordan Spieth/Justin Thomas. With a perfect 4-0 partnership at Quail Hollow, Jordan and JT are now 8-2 paired together in these team events. Somewhere in Paris after missing the cut in the French Open, Patrick Reed is still thinking he’s a better Spieth wingman than Thomas.
BIRDIE: Spieth. He won his first career singles match in eight international competitions, beating Cam Davis 4 and 3, and became the sixth player to finish a perfect 5-0-0 in a Presidents Cup. “When you go out early as I’ve done pretty much every team event on a Sunday, they’re looking for red on the board and it feels good to finally provide that,” Spieth said.
BIRDIE: Tom Kim. A 20-year-old star is born. If you don’t love and can’t root for this gifted and relatable kid, that’s your problem. That he begged to run around Quail Hollow naked rather than publicly sing a few bars of Earth, Wind & Fire was the most adorable sound bite of the week. (Spoiler: he gamely sang for Team Trevor.) His fire exposed his opponents instead.
Credit: Earth, Wind & Fire pic.twitter.com/Ly1vYottn4
— Sam Harrop (@sam_golf) September 22, 2022
BIRDIE: American parity. Gone are the days of outsized alpha dogs heading Team USA’s roster. The consistent strength and depth of Americans, with so many natural and comfortable power pairings, is going to be the norm in these events for the foreseeable future. Sorry Luke Donald.
BIRDIE: Buddy system. While the original U.S. buddy team of Spieth and Thomas are the undisputed power couple, U.S. captains have many easy decisions with Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele proven reliably strong, and now Scottie Scheffler has Sam Burns to work on developing a Texas two-step.
BOGEY: Class of 2019. Of the seven rookies who made the Internationals competitive in 2019, only Sungjae Im returned in 2022. Not having qualified LIV-sters Cameron Smith, Joaquin Niemann and Abraham Ancer damaged not only the International line of succession but their own legacies.
BIRDIE: South Korea. With four players on the team, Koreans have displaced Aussies and South Africans as the dominant source of top International talent in the LIV-depleted era. They contributed to 7½ of the 12½ International points, with each man earning at least 2 points.
BIRDIE: Si Woo Kim. The former Players champion showed uncharacteristic emotion in a riveting and prickly opening singles match against Thomas. He rallied from 2 down at the turn and won with a birdie on 18 to finish 3-1-0, earning top International scoring honors. He even brazenly shushed the crowd with a finger to his lips.
BOGEY: Canada. The host nation in 2024 (Royal Montreal in Quebec) didn’t have anything to cheer about this time as its two reps, Corey Conners and Taylor Pendrith, went a combined 0-8-0 including a failed four-ball partnership. Their singles losses delivered the last two decisive points to the U.S. victory.
BIRDIE: Max Homa. On a team stacked with winners top to bottom, the 31-year-old Homa stood out for his relatable appreciation and joy for just having the opportunity to experience being part of an international team event. That attitude of gratitude elevated his play to another level in a 4-0 effort that seemed to include every essential putt.
PAR: Davis Love III. A thankless captain’s role considering how heavily favored his U.S. team was – with an average world ranking of 11.6 compared to 48.9 for the International team (10 Americans were ranked higher than the top International, No. 17 Matsuyama). But Love’s preparation and deployment proved flawless in building a big early lead and letting his players deliver.
BIRDIE: Trevor Immelman. Faced with a daunting challenge as International captain, the South African struck the perfect tone throughout the trying weeks of uncertainty leading up to the week, right through the match itself. He made everyone want to root for the underdogs. There is no shame in valiant failure.
BOGEY: Scottie Scheffler. His 0-3-1 record marked the worst performance ever by a world No. 1 in either a Presidents or Ryder Cup. He lost at least a 2-hole lead in every match, which has been the story of his month since the Tour Championship.
PAR: Adam Scott. Playing in his record 10th Presidents Cup – every one since his debut in 2003 and two more than Ernie Els and Vijay Singh – the Australian hasn’t had much to celebrate through the years. It’s laudable that events like this and the majors still motivate him more than all the money LIV has to offer.
BOGEY: Sam Burns. Failed to get a single match win. With four of five matches going to the 18th hole, he settled for 0-3-2 mark.
BIRDIE: Shaffer Sports & Events. It’s not the Roman Colosseum, but the buildout of bleachers, hospitality and concession at Quail Hollow was epic in its own right. At 700,000 square feet – including a 3,000-seat amphitheater around the first tee – the Presidents Cup was 40 percent larger than the Players Championship. Bar raised.
The moment we’ve all been waiting for. 🙌
— Presidents Cup (@PresidentsCup) September 20, 2022
BOGEY: Hideki Matsuyama. As the highest ranked and second-most senior of the four International veterans on the roster, Japan’s hero had a lot on his shoulders. The pressure on him and fellow Masters champ Scott to deliver was huge, but Hideki’s only point came with Scotty in Saturday foursomes.
BIRDIE: Sam Harrop. Golf’s premier piano man parodist took his act on the road from England to the States where he offered his unique spin on the happenings at Quail Hollow from inside the ropes – and the team room. With no European dog in the fight, Harrop artfully played both sides of the cup.
BOGEY: Greg Norman. Three times a player and twice a captain in the Presidents Cup, the LIV Golf commish is now an antagonist – siphoning away talent and sucking the oxygen out of the week by whining about OWGR points and lobbying GOP allies. Then he had the audacity to wish Immelman luck on Twitter. The captain’s dismissive response was priceless. “I pretty much say it exactly as I’m thinking it. What I said was exactly what I was doing when I read that tweet. I was laughing out loud,” Immelman said.
— Trevor Immelman (@TrevorImmelman) September 23, 2022
BIRDIE: International shield. Ernie Els created the International team’s identity with a new logo and black-and-gold color scheme in 2019. The shield is a gold outline of the Celtic knot, symbolizing friendship and loyalty, that splits at the top into two golf flags. The black coat of arms represents strength and unity. It’s cool merch.
ACE: None. In 14 of these biennial team matches, not a single player has made a hole in one. In the same 14-event window, there have been five aces in Ryder Cups since 1993 including two each at Oak Hill (1995) and the K Club (2006).
ALBATROSS: Christiaan Bezuidenhout. The South African made a 2 on the 546-yard, par-5 seventh hole during practice on Tuesday. “That was a first for me,” he said. Too bad it didn’t happen when it mattered. Bezuidenhout played the fewest matches, going 1-0-1 with a meaningless point in the anchor singles.
BIRDIE: Paul Azinger. Late in a 6-and-5 opening match: “If you’re way up in these matches, a funny thing starts to happen. The carts start to follow you around for the shuttle ride in because they think you have a chance to close it out. It’s great when you’re up, but when you’re down, it feels like the buzzards are circling.”
BIRDIE: Sebastian Muñoz. The Colombian earned 2½ of a possible 3 points, including twice rallying to keep world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler winless. He may have deserved more PT.
BOGEY: Mito Pereira. He couldn’t make up for missing fellow Chilean Joaquin Niemann, garnering only a half a point in three matches. His costly swing off the 18th tee in Thursday foursomes loss was eerily reminiscent of his PGA finish at Southern Hills.
BIRDIE: Green Mile relocation. The brutal three-hole stretch that defines the finish of the annual Wells Fargo Championship was shifted seamlessly earlier into the pecking order to play as 13, 14 and 15. Good call, as only the first match of the week didn’t reach that far, while 10 team and seven singles matches never reached the 18th.
BOGEY: Kevin Kisner. It’s hard to make a spirited match-play specialist like Kiz invisible, but the 38-year-old with local ties who nearly won the 2017 PGA at Quail Hollow was a quiet presence with only a half point before being buried at the tail end of singles. At least until the after party. “I have never seen a better display of golfers and a worse display of partiers; and I am the best partier on this board – amen,” Kisner said. “That’s why they picked me. I got half a point, but I brought the fun.”
BOGEY: Stimpmeter. Only Augusta National annually yields more three putts on tour than Quail Hollow, and by Sunday’s singles the greens were running so fast that multiple players were putting right off of them on several occasions.
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