The good, bad and ugly from San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO – For the sixth time in eight Presidents Cups, the Americans prevailed over the International squad, and they have still yet to lose on U.S. soil. Yet, as in all team golf competitions, there were plenty of winners and losers at Harding Park.
1. Tiger Woods: Forget about his clinching victory over Y.E. Yang in Sunday’s singles and how dominant he and partner Steve Stricker were in three of their four rounds together. The vintage Woods came through on Saturday morning, when the match and Cup were still up for grabs. His 22-foot birdie putt at 17 and perfect approach at 18 kept the Internationals from gaining any momentum heading into the afternoon. Early on in his career, Woods struggled a bit in team events. That trend is now over. He was 5-0 for the first time in a Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup.
2. Tim Clark: From his victorious eagle putt on Friday to his eight-birdie performance on Sunday, Clark was the premier player on the International squad despite a mark of 2-2-1. Amazingly, he has never won a tour event. In retrospect, Clark probably should have faced Woods in the singles. It was Clark, after all, who beat him at the Match Play in February.
3. Phil Mickelson: Building from his brilliant performance two weeks ago at the Tour Championship, Lefty was one putt away from also going 5-0. Furthermore, by volunteering to play with a shaky Sean O’Hair on Saturday morning and helping him read the greens, Mickelson proved to be an emotional leader as well. He should make an excellent Ryder Cup captain in 2018 or 2020.
4. Steve Stricker: The Sunday setback to Geoff Ogilvy doesn’t take a thing away from Stricker’s stellar play over the first three days as Woods’ partner. Stricker made putts from everywhere, including four straight on Saturday afternoon as he and Woods coasted over Yang and Ryo Ishikawa. Count on seeing him paired with Woods again next year at the Ryder Cup in Wales.
5. Anthony Kim: Kim was erratic early on in the event but came out of nowhere with two clutch birdies on Saturday as he and Jim Furyk secured their match. Then, he became the Kim of the 2008 Ryder Cup on Sunday, dismantling Robert Allenby 5 and 3. This should give Kim (3-1) the confidence boost to produce a superb 2010. Of course, we said the same thing last September after Valhalla.
6. Ryo Ishikawa: For an 18-year-old competing in his first team event of this magnitude, Ishikawa (3-2) was much better than anticipated. He hit the ball a long way, putted with tremendous confidence and displayed a lot of poise. And that was before he dispatched Kenny Perry 2 and 1 on Sunday.
1. Adam Scott: Did anyone really think Scott (1-4) had a prayer of knocking off Stewart Cink in the second match Sunday? The International team needed to put flags on the board, not failures. Now the question becomes: Will Scott, the No. 3 player in the world in 2008 – it’s true, we looked it up – be dedicated enough to regain his form? He’s the biggest disappointment in professional golf, even more than Sergio Garcia.
2. Camilo Villegas: Speaking of losing his form, Villegas (0-4) capped a lost year with a lost week in San Francisco. If he could have somehow managed to upset Hunter Mahan in the first Sunday match, he could have provided the Internationals with the boost they needed to hang in there down the stretch. But a poor chip on 17 eliminated that possibility. Next year will be critical for Villegas as well.
3. Lucas Glover: This guy won the U.S. Open … seriously. It sure didn’t look that way for most of the week, as he finished 0-3-1. No wonder captain Fred Couples sat him down for one of the Saturday matches.
4. Retief Goosen: This guy won the U.S. Open as well, two of them … seriously, and it was only a few months ago that it was widely believed that he had finally emerged from the abyss and was perhaps headed to being an elite player again. Goosen used to be automatic on the greens. He’s still automatic – automatically off line.
5. Angel Cabrera: His only win the whole week came in the final match against Furyk, when the Cup had already been settled. Thanks for coming, Angel.
6. Greg Norman: Norman deserved to be in this category before the Presidents Cup even began for picking the slumping Scott. Then, to top it off, he put Scott and Villegas in the first two groups when the Internationals needed to string together several early victories.