When Tiger Woods won his match against Aaron Baddely on Sunday, he got a big hug from team captain Fred Couples. It was the match that sealed the Presidents Cup victory. It was also sweet vindication for both men. Couples used one of this two captains picks to select Woods, a decision that had been questioned by many. Common logic, and several sportswriters, thought Keegan Bradley, winner of The PGA Championship and The Grand Slam of Golf, would make more sense.
Thankfully, common logic does not always prevail in golf. Errant tee shots strike houses and land in bounds. Perfectly struck putts lip out. The unexpected happens. That’s golf. That’s life, and that’s the way it is.
As captain of the International team, Norman rounded up golfers from Korea to South Africa to his home country of Australia to take on the United States’ best. One country against the rest of the world in their backyard—Bring it!
What made this win a great one was that it wasn’t about just one player. Consider the Saturday fourball match between Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan vs. (the all-Australian team of) Jason Day and Aaron Baddley. On the 17th hole, with Captain Norman sporting an earpiece and looking on like a CEO surveying his busy factory floor, Jason Day sunk a huge putt signaling a few enthusiastic fist pumps from the Shark Captain. Before the loud cheers from the home crowd could fully dissipate, Hunter Mahan sunk a downhill left-to-right giant-killer to win the match.
It was a redemptive team win for Mahan who broke down at last year’s post-Ryder Cup press conference. He was so choked up after losing to Graeme McDowell in the anchor spot, he had trouble speaking. Phil Mickelson showed incredible poise by grabbing the microphone from in front of Mahan and finishing his response.
Another key match on Saturday featured Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods vs. the Korean duo of YE Yang and KT Kim. Yang and Kim were from sitting out the morning and trounced the two longer hitting Americans 2 and 1.
The US certainly won the war but the Internationals did win in at least two key places: 1. Wardrobe. We had solid colors and stripes commemorating a classic look Couples wanted to invoke. Their more modern-looking argyle sweaters and asymmetrical shirt patterns perhaps proved the old adage: flashy team uniforms do not a winning team make. Geoff Ogilvie’s mustache may have had more panache than the American side's white sweater and blue pants combination. Click here to see more great mustaches in sports. 2. Sportsmanship. After the Sunday singles matches ended, American players took turns getting mobbed by the enthusiastic Aussie crowd. They seemed to care less about their team getting beat and more about having a good time. Maybe that's partly because Australians and Americans seem to like each other. As Neil Mitchell of the Herald Sun put it, ‘Our two cultures are fundamentally linked by similar principles, a common language and hours of bad television.’
This comes at a time when nearly all but a few allied troops will be out of Iraq by the end of the year. Changes in US foreign and economic policies will bring many of our brave and distinguished military to Australia. Judging by how US players were treated by the Aussies, it's an occupation both sides will enjoy.