Skip to main content

Match-by-match recaps: U.S. clinches Presidents Cup with Sunday charge

Getty Images

MELBOURNE, Australia – The Americans stormed back to top the Internationals in Sunday singles at the Presidents Cup, winning the the 13th edition of the event 16-14. Here's how the matches played out at Royal Melbourne:

Sunday singles: U.S. 8, Internationals 4

Total score: U.S. 16, Internationals 14


MATCH 19: Tiger Woods (U.S.) def. Abraham Ancer (INT), 3 and 2

The playing captain finished off an unblemished week in style, rolling in a lengthy birdie putt on No. 16 to close out Ancer. The Mexican had voiced a request to face Woods in singles’ play last month, and unfortunately for him he got his wish as Woods didn’t make a bogey over the final 11 holes of the match. Woods finished the week a perfect 3-0, while Ancer’s stellar debut ended with his first loss.

Match 20: Tony Finau (U.S.) vs. Hideki Matsuyama (INT), tied

With the board awash in red, this split felt like a loss for the Internationals. Matsuyama built a 4-up lead through 10 holes before Finau roared back, winning four straight holes to level the match. After Matsuyama regained a slim advantage he slipped at an inopportune time, three-putting No. 17 for bogey to allow Finau to escape with a critical half-point.

Match 21: Patrick Reed (U.S.) def. C.T. Pan (INT), 4 and 2

Captain America finally got on the board, as Reed got off to a fast start and notched his first point of the week. Reed birdied each of the first three holes and built a 6-up lead through seven holes, allowing him to weather a rally from Pan in the middle of the match. Reed added two more birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 to close out the match and end a tumultuous week on a positive note.

Match 22: Dustin Johnson (U.S.) def. Haotong Li (INT), 4 and 3

One of the most lopsided matchups on paper proved to be just that, as Johnson won four of the first six holes and was never challenged. Li never got closer than 3 down once the match reached the fifth hole, and he won only three holes across the entire match. Johnson ends the week with a 2-2 record, while Li went 0-2 after playing in the minimum number of matches.

MATCH 23: Bryson DeChambeau (U.S.) vs. Adam Hadwin (INT), tied

 A crucial half point for both sides at this juncture and it was a match that probably deserved that result. It was close throughout. DeChambeau had only played one match before singles and Hadwin was ill all day on Saturday. Still, DeChambeau was 1 up after making birdie on 16 but he gave it back with a bogey on the next hole.

Match 24: Sungjae Im (INT) def. Gary Woodland (U.S.), 4 and 3

Im notched the first full point for the International squad by taking down the reigning U.S. Open champ in impressive fashion. With the match tied through 10 holes, Im won four of the next five holes to put an exclamation mark on an impressive rookie performance. Woodland leaves Australia a disappointing 1-2-1, while Im racked up 3.5 points while playing in all five sessions.

 MATCH 25: Patrick Cantlay (U.S.) vs. Joaquin Niemann (INT), 3 and 2

 Cantlay finished his rookie performance with a 3-2 record and played in all five sessions. A huge benefit to the Americans. This match was back and forth. Cantlay was 2 up after six holes but lost three of the next four holes. But he won Nos. 11, 12, 13 and 15 to seal the deal. Niemann was steady but didn’t have enough firepower down the stretch.

MATCH 26: Xander Schauffele (U.S.) def. Adam Scott (INT), 2 and 1

Moved the Americans to within a point and a half of winning the cup. This was a gutty performance by Schauffele, who took down the longtime Aussie hero. He was 4 up as late as the 14th hole when Scott made a late surge with consecutive birdies. Schauffele went 2-2-1 in his first U.S. team performance, playing in all five matches.

MATCH 27: Webb Simpson (U.S.) def. Ben An (INT), 2 and 1

Turns out that Simpson plays better when not teamed with Patrick Reed. They went 0-3 together and both won their respective singles matches. An played great the first three days but appeared to run out of steam and only made one birdie. Simpson was never worse than 2 up after the sixth hole. This full point guaranteed the Americans no worse than a tie in the Presidents Cup.

MATCH 28: Cameron Smith (INT) def. Justin Thomas (U.S.), 2 and 1

This was a surprise. Justin Thomas was the best player here for the first three days, then fell apart at the end of Saturday foursomes with Rickie Fowler and lost a match that he absolutely should’ve won. He was 3 up after five holes. Started the week 3-0, ended 3-1-1. Kudos to Smith for battling back and slamming the door shut with birdie on 17. Outright win kept hopes alive of the Internationals achieving a tie.

MATCH 29: Matt Kuchar (U.S.) vs. Louis Oosthuizen (INT), tied

When Kuchar birdied the 17th hole it guaranteed the Americans the final half point it needed to win the Presidents Cup. Kuchar was 3 down as late as the ninth hole then rattled off two consecutive birdies. He then won Nos. 14 and 15 with birdies and added another on 17. A masterful performance in a pressure situation from a man who hadn’t played well in previous Presidents Cup singles matches.

MATCH 30: Rickie Fowler (U.S.) vs. Marc Leishman (INT), tied

Ultimately this match didn’t matter as the cup was already wrapped up. This was a good, clean match where both players played extremely well. Leishman was 2 up after five holes, then Fowler won the next two holes with birdies and it was back and forth the rest of the way. Fowler birdied the 17th hole to go 1 up, which essentially rendered the last hole unnecessary.

Saturday foursomes: U.S. 3, Internationals 1

Total score: International 10, U.S. 8


MATCH 15: Dustin Johnson-Gary Woodland (U.S.) def. Louis Oosthuizen-Adam Scott (INT), 2 and 1

Strong opening match that was well-played by both teams. Americans hacked it up on No. 16 to make it closer than it needed to be, but they turned around and won the next hole to win the match. It’s a big blow for Els, who put his two best horses out first hoping for a positive result. It was the first loss for both Oosthuizen and Scott this week. It was Johnson’s first win.  

MATCH 16: Justin Thomas-Rickie Fowler (U.S.) vs. Marc Leishman-Abraham Ancer (INT), tied 

Wow. Wow. Wow. The most shocking match of the entire event. Americans were cruising with a 5-up lead after 10 holes and it ended in a tie. Internationals won Nos. 11 and 12 with birdies but still it was a steep hill against the strongest U.S. team. Americans finished with three consecutive bogeys to hand the half-point to the Internationals. A steal.

Presidents Cup: Match scoring | Full coverage

MATCH 17: Xander Schauffele-Patrick Cantlay (U.S.) def. Cameron Smith-Sungjae Im (INT), 2 and 1

Internationals were 3 up after five holes, but the Americans won the next three. An Internationals bogey on the 13th hole gave the U.S. a lead that it would never relinquish. Birdie on the par-5 15th hole helped put the finishing touches on a win for a U.S. team that has played all four team matches together.

 MATCH 18: Matt Kuchar-Tony Finau (U.S.) vs. Ben An-Joaquin Niemann (INT), tied

Another match that the Americans let slip away, although not nearly as dramatic as the Thomas-Fowler collapse. The U.S. was 2 up after 13 holes, but lost the next two. Both teams made three consecutive pars on the last three holes to tie the match, but both teams had legitimate looks at birdie on the last hole for the outright win.

Saturday fourballs: Internationals 2 ½, U.S. 1 ½ 

Total score: Internationals 9, U.S. 5 


MATCH 11: Justin Thomas-Rickie Fowler (US) def. Marc Leishman-Haotong Li (INT), 3 and 2

The Americans played well but really didn’t need to do anything special against an outmatched International duo. This was Li’s first appearance at this cup and he did not play well, showing why Els opted to only use him once before singles. Thomas is now 3-0, establishing himself as the team MVP. 

Watch: JT miffed at Int'ls for not conceding putt

Justin Thomas was unhappy with the Internationals for having to putt a gimme Friday at the Presidents Cup, and he let them know it.

MATCH 12: Sungjae Im-Abraham Ancer (INT) def. Xander Schauffele-Patrick Cantlay (US), 3 and 2

Scott has said for weeks that Ancer was going to play a key role in these matches. Well, he’s now 3-0 and has been an absolute terror for the Americans. The U.S. team only made three birdies – that’s rarely going to have a chance to win in this format – and they lost two of the last three holes. 

MATCH 13: Hideki Matsuyama-C.T. Pan (INT) def. Patrick Reed-Webb Simpson (US), 5 and 3

Nothing more to say, Reed and Simpson are now 0-3 after another loss. They made only one birdie in the entire round. Reed’s Captain America moniker needs to be retired, pronto. He’s been a disaster. International team was steady and kept pressure on after winning the first two holes.

MATCH 14: Matt Kuchar-Tony Finau (US) vs. Adam Scott-Ben An (INT), tied

Crucial match where neither team ever gained more than a 1-up advantage. The Internationals (mostly An) who made key putts down the stretch when it mattered most, but it was Finau who made birdie on the last hole to steal a half point. Also salvaged a respectable score in a session that looked dreary for the Americans for most of the morning.

Friday foursomes: Internationals 2 ½, U.S. 2 ½

Total score: Internationals 6 ½, U.S. 3 ½


MATCH 6: Louis Oosthuizen-Adam Scott (INT) def. Dustin Johnson-Matt Kuchar (U.S.), 3 and 2

The Americans were 2 up after seven holes then completely fell apart. They made birdies early to get the lead but lost five holes with bogey. DJ hasn’t showed up yet in two matches. The Internationals played steady, but didn’t have to do much other than make pars to win. This set the early tone for the session.  

MATCH 7: Xander Schauffele-Patrick Cantlay (U.S.) def. Adam Hadwin-Joaquin Niemann (INT), 1 up

Huge, huge, huge full point for the Americans. Came down to the last hole and Cantlay drained a 14-footer for birdie to win the hole and the match. Neither team held more than a 1-up advantage in what was the best match of the day even though eyes were focused on the bigger names.  

MATCH 8: Marc Leishman-Abraham Ancer (INT) def. Webb Simpson-Patrick Reed (U.S.), 3 and 2

The Americans were 2 down late in the match when Reed made a shoveling-like gesture to a boisterous fan. He looked ridiculous, especially doing that while losing. Ancer continues to shine in his Presidents Cup debut winning both matches. He saved Oosthuizen in the first session and now pulled Leishman out of his funk. Impressive.

MATCH 9: Tiger Woods-Justin Thomas (U.S.) def. Ben An-Hideki Matsuyama (INT), 1 up

Americans raced out to a 2-up lead after five holes then lost the next three straight holes to go 1 down. They never held another lead until Thomas drained a 17-footer for birdie on the last hole to win the hole and the match. Thomas and Woods went nuts in celebration and the full point gave the U.S. some life it desperately needed.

Watch: JT, Tiger drop putters in dramatic win

With the U.S. in desperate need of a spark late Friday, Justin Thomas brought the fire, securing a 1-up win alongside partner Tiger Woods.

MATCH 10: Rickie Fowler-Gary Woodland (U.S.) vs. Sungjae Im-Cameron Smith (INT), tied

Last match on the course was another nail-biter. Internationals were 2 up after 15 holes, but two Americans birdies sent it to the last hole tied. There was drama as Im faced a 14-footer to win the match but missed. Fowler had to make a 5-footer for par to secure the tie. The session ended tied at 2 ½.

Day 1 fourballs: Internationals 4, U.S. 1

Total score: Internationals 4, U.S. 1


MATCH 1: Tiger Woods-Justin Thomas (U.S.) def. Marc Leishman-Joaquin Niemann (INT), 4 and 3

This was the Woods Show as he single-handedly won the match for his team, making six birdies in 15 holes. It was effortless. Thomas did not play well but it didn’t matter. After being 3 down after five holes, the Internationals won the next two. Woods then birdied Nos. 11, 14 and 15 to end it. His chip-in on the fifth hole was epic.

TT PS: Woods, JT 'go get that' first win for U.S.

Tiger Woods had it firing on all cylinders during Thursday's fourball session at the Presidents Cup, and he and Justin Thomas rolled to a 4-and-3 victory.

MATCH 2: Adam Hadwin-Sungjae Im (INT) def. Xander Schauffele-Patrick Cantlay (U.S.), 1 up

The closest match of the session as neither team ever gained more than a 1-up advantage. It was tied through 15 holes, but the Americans lost the 16th hole because of a bogey that ultimately lost them the match. The Internationals were steady and kept the pressure on all day.

MATCH 3: Adam Scott-Ben An (INT) def. Bryson DeChambeau-Tony Finau (U.S.), 2 and 1

This match was back-and-forth until Scott made birdie on the ninth hole to move to 2 up. Finau birdied No. 12 to get back to 1 down, but the Americans bogeyed the next hole and were never able to mount a charge after that. Fittingly, Scott made par on the 17th hole to clinch the match in his homeland. 

MATCH 4: Hideki Matsuyama-C.T. Pan (INT) def. Webb Simpson-Patrick Reed (U.S.), 1 up

Another close contest and the Americans battled to get back into a tie after Reed made birdie on the 16th hole. But Matsuyama bounced back on the next hole and drained a 25-footer for birdie to take the 1-up lead into the final hole. This was the final match on the course and it put the finishing touches on a 4-1 session victory for the Internationals.

MATCH 5: Abraham Ancer-Louis Oosthuizen (INT) def. Dustin Johnson-Gary Woodland (U.S.), 4 and 3

The shocker of the session, hands down. The Internationals were 4 up after five holes and cruised to the easy victory. The American duo, who everyone thought would easily prevail because of their power, was flat and underwhelming. Johnson hit a drive to 3 feet on the par-4 11th hole and missed the eagle putt and a chance to cut the lead to 2 down.