U.S. golfers cruise to victory

CHARLOTTE (AFP) — The United States won the Presidents Cup for a ninth consecutive time on Sunday with Tokyo Olympic champion Xander Schauffele delivering the clinching point in a 17.5-12.5 triumph over the Internationals.

Schauffele never trailed in defeating Canada’s Corey Conners 1-up, sinking a three-foot par putt at the 18th hole to lift the US squad to 15.5 points and seal the overall triumph at Quail Hollow.
“It feels good to win,” Schauffele said.

“It got pretty close there for a little bit. Winning is winning.”

The Americans, who led 11-7 entering the 12 final singles matches, improved to 12-1-1 in the all-time rivalry and have never lost on home soil.

“They played great,” US captain Davis Love said.

“It was hard. They put in a lot of effort the last three weeks. They came in ready to go.”

Conners, winless for the week, missed a five-foot par putt at 17 to keep Schauffele 1-up.

At 18, Schauffele dropped his third shot three feet from the hole and, after Conners missed his third from a bunker, rolled in the deciding putt to tie the hole, win the match and set off a US celebration.

“I was handed the opportunity and I was able to take advantage of it,” Schauffele said.

The Internationals couldn’t make the greatest last-day comeback in Presidents Cup history and haven’t lifted the trophy since 1998.

“We’re a little disappointed,” Internationals captain Trevor Immelman said.

“We believed in ourselves.”

“We had an amazing week. They were fighting. These guys have massive hearts. I’ll go into battle with them any day.”

With 10 of the world’s 16 top-ranked players, the US team was a heavy favorite over a global side that lost British Open champion Cam Smith and several other top players who jumped from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf, making them ineligible.

“Trevor and his guys did a great job of rising to the occasion,” Love said.

Tony Finau won five of the last nine holes to defeat Canada’s Taylor Pendrith 3&1 and lift the Americans within a point of clinching the Cup.

“I fought as hard as I’ve ever fought in a match,” Finau said.

“You just have to get the job done.”

Jordan Spieth, winless in seven prior Ryder and Presidents Cup singles matches, became only the sixth player to go 5-0 in a single Presidents Cup, winning four holes in a row late to defeat Australia’s Cam Davis 4&3 for the first US point.

“I was extra nervous,” Spieth said.

“I wanted to get that monkey off my back. They are looking for red on the board and it feels really good to finally provide that.”

“You can’t put a price on this. I did as much as I could this week.”

Patrick Cantlay never trailed in beating Australia’s Adam Scott 3&2 for the second US point. Cantlay went 3-up after four holes and Scott, Cup-less in 10 tries, was never nearer than 2-down after that.

Sam Burns finished the week winless but helped the US cause by tying Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.

The global stars pulled off two early upsets to delay the US party.

South Korea’s Kim Si-woo beat Justin Thomas 1-up, the American falling to 0-3 in career Presidents Cup singles.

Thomas, who went 4-0 with Spieth in pairs, lost after Kim sank a 10-foot birdie putt at 18 and Thomas missed his from three inches closer.

“I believed I could do it and I did it,” Kim said.

“I’ve never (felt) this pressure. Real hard match. I kept the pressure to him and kept positive and that’s why it worked.”

Thomas won the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow and his second major at this year’s PGA.

Colombian Sebastian Munoz beat top-ranked Scottie Scheffler 2&1, the Masters champion going 0-3-1 this week, worst mark of any world number one in a Presidents Cup.

“It was tough,” Munoz said.

“It was one of the best things I’ve ever achieved in my life. It took everything. I threw everything at him.”

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