The 2022 Presidents Cup ended Sunday afternoon at the Quail Hollow Club and there would be no Cinderella this go-round as the heavily favored United States team did what it was expected to do.
In the end, the United States team won four of the five sessions, including a 6 1/2-5 1/2 win in the Sunday singles. In the end, the score read 17 1/2-11 1/2 but this out-gunned team of International players walked away with new-found respect from their opponents and the thousands of fans who flocked to this team competition.
The moment of victory came late in the afternoon proceedings, around 5:24 p.m. when Xander Schauffele did what he does best — he holed a 6-footer for par on the 18th hole and a 1-up win over Corey Conners that got the U.S. team to 15 1/2 points — the magic number to win the cup.
“Man, we were struggling out there,” Schauffele said of himself and Conners. “Thank goodness there are no pictures on the scorecard. We both struggled — a true grind in match play.”
It was a grind because the International team made a move on Saturday afternoon. Up to that point, the Internationals lost every session and trailed 10-4 heading into the afternoon best-ball matches. Cam Davis finished eagle-birdie-birdie and pulled out a 1-up victory with partner Adam Scott over Cameron Young and Collin Morikawa. Then in the next-to-last match, Tom Kim went up against Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns (partner Si Woo Kim was out of the hole) and all Kim did was hit a spectacular second at the 18th from outside 200 yards to 10 feet. Then the 20-year-old sensation holed the birdie putt for a 1-up win over the No. 1 and No. 12 players in the world.
The Internationals won that session 3-1 and gave themselves a faint glimmer of hope heading into Sunday as they pulled within four points 11-7.
But there would be no miracle.
Their core of experience — Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau and Schauffele — all got wins and newcomer Max Homa proved to be co-MVP along with Spieth. Together, they went 9-0-0 for the week — accounting for more than half of the team’s points.
“You know, when you get to do it collectively with representing your country with some of the best players in the world, I think Max (Homa) said it really well, you just can’t put a price on it,” said Spieth. “There’s really nothing that’s more enjoyable.”
Finau went 3-1-0 and made this observation: “Goodness gracious — I think I fought as hard as I ever have in a match (Sunday). I’m pretty stoked right now!”
For the International side, Si Woo Kim was the only player to get three wins — the same as their two big guns (Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama), combined.
In the end, it came down to putting, as it does most often at this highest level of the game and the United States team proved to be superior putters to the Internationals.
It shook out the way most matches do — a few missed putts here and there and a few, very important clutch putts made at the right time by the winning team.
Yes, it was a U.S. victory, but it was far from a runaway.
The Internationals did make it interesting — they just didn’t sink the putts when they desperately needed them.