MELBOURNE, Australia – Well, that was fun. Tiger Woods was an absolute machine Thursday in the opening fourball session of the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne. It was a thing of beauty. Here are some thoughts from Woods and Justin Thomas’ 4-and-3 victory over Marc Leishman and Joaquin Niemann:
• There were many great moments during the match. Woods made six birdies and had little help from Justin Thomas, who was asked what worked well between them. “Tiger was working well between the two of us today,” Thomas quipped. #truth
• The greatest moment was obvious. Woods hit a laser at the pin on the par-3 fifth hole but it trickled and trickled and trickled over and off the back, right side of the green. He chipped in – which coincidentally I predicted on Twitter – and pointed at Thomas to go get the ball out of the hole for him. It was an awesome “go get that” moment, a la Jordan Spieth at The Open in 2017.
• Woods birdied Nos. 1, 2 and 5 and was 3 up at that point. The Internationals won the next two holes to tighten the margin, but Woods birdied Nos. 11, 14 and 15 to end the match. Aside from the aforementioned chip in, Woods next-best shot was on the par-4 11th hole. He drove it in a bunker 50 yards short, right of the hole. He hit it to 3 feet and made the birdie.
• Not only was Woods the best American player on the course, he was the best player on either team. And it wasn’t particularly close.
• To be fair, the International team did not play well either. Leishman was wayward with his driver and Niemann seemed to have good touch on the greens but nothing significant dropped. “They got off to a really hot start,” Leishman said. “I don’t think either of us play our best golf. Like I said at the start of the week, we have to play good golf to beat these guys.”
• Steve Stricker was the designated captain while Woods was playing. After the match was over, Woods did an interview with television, walked to the side, donned an earpiece and microphone and declared, “I’m in.” He was then officially the captain for the rest of the session.