Writer: Lucas Garza
The People Tours
Anirban Lahiri’s celebration on the 18th hole at Liberty National Golf Club made it seem as if the International team had won the President’s Cup for the first time since 1998, and only the second time ever. That was not the case. Lahiri was celebrating the fact that he and Si Woo Kim had won a point that prevented the U.S. team from claiming the cup a day early. The U.S. team was so dominant that they were just one point away from being declared champions before the twelve singles matches even occurred. The United States was smiling all week, and deservedly so.
After the first five matches on Thursday, the U.S. led 3.5-1.5. Justin Thomas/Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed dominated their foursome matches, and the South African team of Branden Grace/Louis Oosthuizen won the only outright point for the International team. Friday was when an early deficit for the International’s turned into something much more. In the fourball matches, the U.S. team won four of the five matches, and halved the only other match. The Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell pairing won the match 6&5 over Anirban Lahiri and Charl Schwartzel, even though many saw Hoffman and Chappell a the U.S. team’s weakest players. At the end of Friday, the U.S. led 8-2 in the point total, and everything seemed to be wrapped up early.
Talks of the U.S. having enough points after the Saturday matches to claim the cup before playing the Sunday singles matches began to come up. It seemed almost unattainable for the U.S. to win seven of the day’s eight matches and half the other. But the Americans had played well enough to do so, and they were having fun on the course. In the morning’s foursome matches, the United States won three of the four matches, and Rickie Fowler/Justin Thomas and Branden Grace/Louis Oosthuizen halved their match against one another. With the point total now 11.5-2.5, the American’s needed to win all four of the afternoon fourball matches to claim the cup a day early. The U.S. was able to put the first three points on the board, but still needed to win the final match of the day. Anirban Lahiri and Si Woo Kim spoiled (not quite) the U.S. early celebration plans by defeating Hoffman/Chappell 1 up, and Lahiri felt the need to celebrate when they did so. The total was 14.5-3.5 going into Sunday, and the U.S. only needed to claim one of the possible twelve point available on Sunday.
Not surprisingly, the Americans won the President’s Cup for the seventh straight time, and only made it a formality on Sunday. The final point total was 19-11.
The American team had much more talent than the International squad, and a lot of the players were coming into the President’s Cup in great form. None of the International’s players made any charges during the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and that poor play seemed to carry over for another week. The PGA TOUR 2017-2018 wrap around season begins this week at the Safeway Open in Napa Valley, but don’t expect to see many top level players until the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in December.