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Match recaps: U.S. clinches cup

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OVERALL: U.S. 18 1/2, INTERNATIONALS 15 1/2

SUNDAY SINGLES: INTERNATIONALS 7 1/2, U.S. 4 1/2

Match 23: Ernie Els (INTL) defeats Steve Stricker (USA), 1 up

What some said would be an impromptu putting lesson for Els – who struggled at times during the week on Muirfield Village’s greeens – turned into a match-play clinic with the South African never trailing and pulling away with a clutch birdie at No. 16.

Match 24: Hunter Mahan (USA) defeats Hideki Matsuyama (INTL), 3 and 2

For those who may have forgotten, Muirfield Village is a ball-striker’s golf course and Mahan put on a shot-making show. The American was 4 under through 16 holes and improved his Presidents Cup singles record to 3-1-0.

Match 25: Jason Dufner (USA) defeats Brendon De Jonge (INTL), 4 and 3

The laser-like iron play that helped Dufner win the PGA Championship this year was back on display to the misfortune of de Jonge. Dufner was all over the flagstick with stellar ball-striking.

Match 26: Jason Day (INTL) defeats Brandt Snedeker (USA), 6 and 4

The Australian went 5 under through 14 holes and blew away Snedeker to put the Internationals' first point on the board in the singles frame and ended his week with a solid 3-1-1 record.

Match 27: Graham DeLaet (INTL) defeats Jordan Spieth (USA), 1 up

For those who couldn’t make it to Muirfield Village for the conclusion of the final foursomes session on Sunday, the Canadian put on another show at the 18th hole, holing out for birdie at the last for the second time in less than seven hours to complete an inspiring week for the rookie.

Match 28: Adam Scott (INTL) defeats Bill Haas (USA) 2 and 1

The Masters champ hit his tee shot to 10 feet at the eighth hole, buried the birdie putt to take a 1-up lead and never looked back.

Match 29: Zach Johnson (USA) defeats Branden Grace (INTL), 4 and 2

Johnson was in command early and never wavered. He won the third hole, draining a 25-foot birdie to take a 1-up lead. He never trailed the rest of the way.

Match 30: Marc Leishman (INTL) defeats Matt Kuchar (USA), 1 up

This match was tight all the way, with Leishman looking as if he were going to give away his 1-up lead at the 18th hole. He buried a 14-foot putt for par there to halve the hole and win his match.

Match 31: Tiger Woods (USA) defeats Richard Sterne (INTL), 1 up

It was fitting that for a third straight Presidents Cup, the clinching point came from Tiger Woods. Hampered by a lingering back injury down the stretch, Woods won the 16th hole with a par to take the lead and didn’t relinquish it.

Match 32: Charl Schwartzel (INTL) defeats Keegan Bradley (USA), 2 and 1

After grabbing the lead on the 10th hole, Bradley lost three straight starting on No. 14, posting two double bogeys and a par on the par-5 15th. Schwartzel was solid if not spectacular throughout the round.

Match 33: Webb Simpson (USA) halved with Louis Oosthuizen (INTL)

Simpson grabbed the lead with a birdie on the second hole and never gave it up – until the final hole when, with the overall total no longer in doubt, he conceded to Oosthuizen, giving each a halve.

Match 34: Angel Cabrera (INTL) defeats Phil Mickelson (USA), 1 up

Each player believed this one was simply for pride – until things started tightening up. “I got to 12 or 13,” Mickelson said, “and they were like, ‘Your match is going to count.’ I was like, ‘What?’” As it turns out, it counted – but only for posterity’s sake. A par for Cabrera on the last was the difference.


SATURDAY/SUNDAY FOURSOMES: U.S. 3 1/2, INTERNATIONALS 1 1/2

Match 18: Jason Day/Graham DeLaet (INTL.) halve Keegan Bradley/Phil Mickelson (U.S.)

The session’s most heated match, with the Internationals rolling out to a 3-up lead before darkness halted play. The U.S. won the 14th, the first hole of the restart, but bogeyed the 16th to set up the week’s best exchange at the 18th when DeLaet chipped in from in front of the green and Bradley holed a 10 footer for the halve. And yes, there were plenty of fist pumps.

Match 19: Jason Dufner/Zach Johnson (U.S.) def. Richard Sterne/Marc Leishman (INTL.), 4 and 3

The only match from the final foursome session to finish on Saturday thanks to a fierce American rally. The Internationals built a 2-up lead before the Americans played their last eight holes in 6 under, including a holed-out wedge by Johnson at the 15th hole to complete the walk-off.

Match 20: Bill Haas/Steve Stricker (U.S.) def. Adam Scott/Hideki Matsuyama (INTL.), 4 and 3

A new partner for Stricker but a familiar result. The U.S. tandem was 6 under through 15 holes, a filthy alternate-shot card, and stunned what had become the International’s best team.

Match 21: Ernie Els/Brendon de Jonge (INTL.) vs. Tiger Woods/Matt Kuchar (U.S.), 1 up

The undefeated American power tandem rallies after falling three holes down through 14 holes with an eagle at the 15th and birdie at No. 16, but Kuchar fails to convert a 7 footer at the 17th to square the match and the Internationals provide their teams only full point in the session.

Match 22: Webb Simpson/Brandt Snedeker (U.S.) def. Louis Oosthuizen/Charl Schwartzel (INTL.), 1 up

When the Internationals dissect what went wrong this week they may start with this match. The South Africans rolled out to a 3-up lead, playing the first eight holes in 4 under, but imploded when play resumed, playing Nos. 13 to 17 in 5 over to assure the Americans win the second foursomes frame.


SATURDAY FOURBALLS: U.S.  4, INTERNATIONALS 1

Match 13: Phil Mickelson/Keegan Bradley (USA) defeat Ernie Els/Brendon de Jonge (INTL), 2 and 1

Trailing 2 down at one point, Mickelson posted four consecutive birdies starting at the 11th hole to turn things around. He and Bradley improved to 5-1-0 as partners over the past two years.

Match 14: Jason Day/Graham DeLaet (INTL) defeat Steve Stricker/Jordan Spieth (USA), 2 up

After the match, Day said of his partner, “Oh, man. This guy is clutch.” Indeed, it was DeLaet who birdied 16 for a 1-up lead, but a tight approach on the final hole by Day eventually sealed the victory.

Match 15: Bill Haas/Webb Simpson (USA) defeat Angel Cabrera/Branden Grace (INTL), 4 and 3

The Wake Forest connection took the lead on the opening hole and never trailed in this one. Haas was especially on his game, hitting multiple approach shots so close that they led to conceded birdies.

Match 16: Brandt Snedeker/Hunter Mahan (USA) defeat Louis Oosthuizen/Carl Schwartzel (INTL), 2 up

You can’t win if you never lead and that was the issue facing the South African duo in this one.  In an evenly contested match, Mahan and Snedeker took a lead on the third hole, but never led by more than 2 up.

Match 17: Tiger Woods/Matt Kuchar (USA) defeat Adam Scott/Hideki Matsuyama (INTL), 2 up

Facing a first loss together at 1 down with six to play, the U.S. duo caught fire. Woods birdied 13, Kuchar birdied 14, Woods eagled 15 and Kuchar birdied 18 to clinch it. They moved to 3-0-0 as partners this week.


FRIDAY FOURSOMES: U.S. 3, INTERNATIONALS 3

Match 7: Phil Mickelson/Keegan Bradley (USA) def. Jason Day/Graham DeLaet (INTL), 4 and 3. 

Mickelson and Bradley made eagle at the fifth to square the match and begin a torrid run of eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie on the way to a front-nine 30. After a rain delay halted play at the turn, they came out and won the first three holes to go 6 up with six to play.

Match 8: Ernie Els/Brendon de Jonge (INTL) def. Bill Haas/Hunter Mahan (USA), 4 and 3.

De Jonge continued his stellar play in his rookie Presidents Cup. He holed a birdie at the second hole with Els holing one at the third to put the Internationals 2 up in the match. They led the rest of the way.

Match 9: Steve Stricker/Jordan Spieth (USA) defeat Branden Grace/Richard Sterne (INTL), 2 and 1

The U.S. duo never trailed in this one, jumping to a 2 up lead at the turn and extending it to 4 up before Stricker holed a 6-foot par putt to close it out. The team’s oldest and youngest players are now 2-0-0 together and will be paired again in Saturday’s fourballs session.

Match 10: Angel Cabrera/Marc Leishman (INTL) defeat Webb Simpson/Brandt Snedeker (USA), 2 and 1

After an opening match thrashing, Cabrera and Leishman finally showed signs of life on the topsy-turvy back nine in this match. They won the 11th and 12th holes to go 2 up; lost the 13th and 14th to drop to all square; then won the 15th and 17th to win the match.

Match 11: Tiger Woods/Matt Kuchar (U.S.) def. Louis Ooshuizen/Charl Schwartzel (INTL.), 4 and 2

The American tandem of Carlton and Kuchar, sorry, Woods and Kuchar, were solid again, teaming to go 8 under through 16 holes and steamroll the South African tandem. The U.S. duo remains undefeated at Muirfield Village.

Match 12: Hideki Matsuyama/Adam Scott (INTL.) def. Jason Dufner/Zach Johnson (U.S.), 2 and 1

The Americans rallied when play resumed early Saturday with three consecutive birdies starting at No. 13, but Scott and Matsuyama close them out with steady pars at the 16th and 17th to keep the Internationals from dropping their eighth consecutive foursomes session.


THURSDAY FOURBALL: U.S. 3 1/2, INTERNATIONALS 2 1/2

Match 1: Jason Day/Graham DeLaet (INTL.) def. Brandt Snedeker/Hunter Mahan (U.S.), 1 up

The American duo grabbed a quick 3-up lead, but that differential was cut to 1 up by the turn and was erased on the 15th hole. Day’s lengthy birdie putt on the final green of his home course gave the Internationals their first point of the day.

Match 2: Adam Scott/Hideki Matsuyama (INTL.) halve with Bill Haas/Webb Simpson (U.S.)

This one likely felt like a win for the Internationals, who never led in the match. Scott was the main man with an eagle and six birdies, but it was the rookie who came up big, hitting a laser at the last hole to claim a half-point.

Match 3: Louis Oosthuizen/Charl Schwartzel (INTL.) def. Phil Mickelson/Keegan Bradley (U.S.), 2 and 1

Call it a Tale of Two Sides. The U.S. pair led after six of the front nine holes and never trailed, but the Internationals grabbed a lead on the 11th and never relinquished it, as a Schwartzel birdie on 17 sealed the deal.

Match 4: Steve Stricker/Jordan Spieth (U.S.) def. Ernie Els/Brendon de Jonge (INTL.), 1 up

Despite an absolute birdie barrage by first-timer de Jonge, the oldest and youngest members of the U.S. side took turns rolling in a bevy of putts themselves in a match that featured the best overall play by any foursome.

Match 5: Matt Kuchar/Tiger Woods (U.S.) def. Angel Cabrera/Marc Leishman (INTL.), 5 and 4

Woods and Kuchar combined to post eight birdies in 14 holes, following each victorious hole with a celebration directly out of “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” As Kuchar said of the idea afterward, “That was definitely all me.”

Match 6: Zach Johnson/Jason Dufner (U.S.) def. Branden Grace/Richard Sterne (INTL.), 5 and 3

The U.S. tandem took a lead on the opening hole with a birdie from Johnson, then went 2 up with a second-hole birdie from Dufner and never led by less than that, easily disposing of the International team’s only all-rookie pairing.