The United States entered the final day of the Presidents Cup trailing by two points. Captain Tiger Woods decided to send player Tiger Woods out in the very first match of the day, hoping to get a point and make a statement against the International side's best player.
Woods beat Abraham Ancer. The rest of the Americans followed his lead.
Here's how the U.S. pulled it off:
SCOREBOARD: United States 16, International 14
Tiger Woods def. Abraham Ancer 3 and 2
Woods was locked in from the moment he walked onto the golf course. Maybe it had something to do with Ancer saying he wanted a piece of Tiger a few weeks back. Maybe it was that Woods, the U.S. captain, knew his team needed to make an early statement. Maybe it was all of the above. Woods won the first hole, but Ancer made him work for the much-needed point. The 14th hole might have sealed things. Woods made his 6-footer for par; Ancer missed. That's not the first time that has happened in the Tiger Woods career cycle. When Woods finished off Ancer, that finished off a 3-0 week for captain/player Woods.
Dustin Johnson def. Haotong Li 4 and 3
Li never had a chance this week. He sat the first two days of the competition -- the only player to do that. Then when he finally got into action on Day 3, he looked shaky in the one session in which International captain Ernie Els put him out there. Li looked equally lost in singles. He was 3 down through five holes and 5 down through 11. For Johnson, this was as easy as it gets.
Patrick Reed def. C.T. Pan 4 and 2
This was going to go one of two ways: Reed, tired of all the drama, would be disinterested and just ready to get out of Australia. Or ... Reed would be annoyed and motivated by the heckling and the fallout from his caddie's altercation with a fan, which forced the PGA Tour to remove Kessler Karain from the bag for singles. Reed was 6 up through seven holes. That answer the question as to which scenario played out? Give Pan credit: He fought back and cut the deficit to 2 down, but Reed was not letting this one go. After starting the week 0-3, Reed finally got a point.
Flipping matches is the key to winning team events. Turn a deficit into a tie or a win. Finau was 4 down through 10 holes. The Internationals were figuring that was one sure point ... until Finau stormed back. He won four consecutive holes early in the back nine and snuck away with a half point.
Sungjae Im def. Gary Woodland 4 and 3
This match, through 10 holes, was one of those that could go either way. The two traded leads on the front nine and walked to the 11th hole tied. But Im, the Presidents Cup rookie who never seemed bothered by the moment all week, won three of the next four holes -- in part thanks to a pair of Woodland bogeys. Im went 3-1-1 for the week.
Both players had Day 3 off; Hadwin because he was sick, DeChambeau because Woods kept him out of the lineup. This match went to the 18th tee all tied up. When it was DeChambeau's turn, the fans were still boisterous. The caddies and officials tried to quiet them. It wasn't working. So DeChambeau whistled at them. He got their attention -- and some boos. He then launched his drive 30 yards past Hadwin. Both players had birdie putts to potentially win the match. DeChambeau missed from 25 feet and Hadwin missed from 13. Two pars and a half point shared.
Patrick Cantlay def. Joaquin Niemann 3 and 2
While others struggled with the speedy greens at Royal Melbourne, Cantlay seemed comfortable all week. And he was certainly comfortable midway through his match with Niemann, rolling in three consecutive birdies on Nos. 11-13 to go from 1 down to 2 up and take control of the match. He added another at the 15th. On the day Cantlay, made seven birdies.
Xander Schauffele def. Adam Scott 2 and 1
Even with the big momentum swings common in match play, sometimes a deficit is just too big. Scott was 4 down after nine holes. He was still 4 down through 14. And though he tried -- with a long eagle putt from just off the green at the 15th and a gutty par at the 16th -- he could not come all the way back and flip the match or steal a half point with a tie.
Webb Simpson def. Byeong Hun An 2 and 1
Simpson was stuck next to Reed for three days. Away from that circus, Simpson found his comfort zone. He had three birdies on the front and two more on the back. An, meanwhile, never seemed comfortable; he made just one birdie all day.
Cam Smith def. Justin Thomas 2 and 1
Perhaps Thomas was still reeling from the collapse alongside Rickie Fowler at the end of Day 3, but this wasn't the effort the Americans expected from one of their anchors. He took a 3 up lead through five holes over Smith, another of the International side's Presidents Cup rookies. With a lead like that, the U.S. had to be feeling good. But as in Day 3, Thomas could not hold the lead as Smith surged on the back nine to take a lead. Unlike Thomas, once Smith got the lead on the 12th hole, he did not give it back. It was Thomas' first loss of the week.
Kuchar struggled with his putter all day. But something changed when he got over a must-make birdie attempt at the 14th. That one snuck in the side door, and something clicked. Kuchar rolled in another at the 15th to even things up and drained one more at 17, securing a half point that guaranteed a Presidents Cup victory for the United States.
The last match on the course was rendered meaningless after Kuchar sealed the United States win in the match right in front of this one. Still, they finished. Fowler had a chance to win the match, but missed his par putt and had to settle for a half point.