Americans Win Presidents Cup

Monday, October 1st 2007, 7:13 am
By: News On 6

MONTREAL (AP) _ Mike Weir would have been left out if the Presidents Cup had been played in any other country but Canada. Ten spots removed from one of the 10 automatic spots on the International team, the slumping Canadian was even a bit worried that Gary Player might still pass him over for one of his two captain's picks.

Luckily, Player wasn't about to sacrifice the home-crowd advantage and set himself up for a week of criticism from the Canadian fans and media, so he added Weir and hoped the left-hander would right himself at Royal Montreal.

The Americans' 19 1/2-14 1/2 victory aside, it ended up even better than Player and Weir could have dreamed, with the Canadian finishing an inspired five matches with a performance that rivals his 2003 Masters win.

On a perfect autumn Sunday on colorful Ile Bizard, Weir won the last two holes to beat Tiger Woods to the delight of the adoring fans who crammed into the bleachers and pressed against the ropes, waved flags, cheered and chanted at every turn.

``I told him I was proud of how he handled himself,'' Woods said. ``He had to carry an entire country on his shoulders. Not too many people can play as well as he did. He handled it magnificently.''

To the point that he wasn't sure if the Masters was still his sweetest moment.

``It's right there with it,'' said Weir, who had the International team's best record at 3-1-1.

Woods was 1 up with two holes to play, but Weir made a 10-foot birdie putt to win the 17th. With the match all square and Weir safely in the 18th fairway, Woods _ playing the hole for the first time in five matches _ pulled his tee shot into a pond.

Weir hit his approach to 15 feet and, after Woods' chip for par stopped 2 inches from the cup, he conceded Weir's putt. They shared a hug on the green as the gallery roared, filling the air with chants of ``Mike! Mike! Mike!''

``I liked my chances today,'' said Weir, 3 up after 10 holes. ``I felt good about my game. I knew I was going to give him a battle. I played about as good as I can and Tiger missed some chances.''

After winning 10 1/2 of 11 points in the alternate-shot matches the first two days, the United States took a 14 1/2-7 1/2 lead into the closing singles. Needing only three points to win their first cup on international soil in 14 years, they took five.

David Toms topped the scoring table, beating Trevor Immelman 2 up to finish with 4 1/2 points. Scott Verplank won all four of his matches, holding off Rory Sabbatini 2 and 1 six years after winning the last Canadian Open at Royal Montreal.

``In the end, golf was the winner this week,'' Toms said. ``We put on a good show. Canada put on a good show.''

Phil Mickelson put on a clinic, routing Vijay Singh 5 and 4 to improve to 1-3-3 in Presidents Cup singles.

``I was excited to have a chance to play Vijay,'' Mickelson said. ``It was a fun match and I feel like I played well and had control for a long time.''

Woody Austin drew the most laughter, falling into a lake on the 14th hole Friday and making fun of himself by wearing a swimming mask as he walked down the same fairway Sunday. And as usual, the inspiration and laughs came from captain Jack Nicklaus.

``I've always loved playing for Jack, and hopefully, he'll come back,'' Woods said. ``He's the greatest player of all time, and to have him as your captain to lead us, it doesn't get any better than that.''

Stewart Cink delivered the winning point after birdies on the first five holes led to a 6-and-4 victory over Nick O'Hern.

``We came into this week with a little score to settle up in the international golf arena,'' Cink said. ``I think we showed everybody that we can play again.''

That was a reference to the Ryder Cup, which the Americans have won only once in their last six tries. Against an equally strong International team, they're 5-1-1.

``It's always different teams,'' Woods said. ``The format's different, too. Less matches (in the Ryder Cup). Here you have to play every player each day. You can't hide somebody here. If someone's struggling, they're exposed.''

Player was too excited about Weir's victory to worry about the final score.

``Our guys can hold their heads up high,'' said Player, 0-2-1 as captain. ``And to Mike Weir, I can only say, 'Well done, my friend. That's a big thing in your life.'''

With former President Bush on the first tee, the crowd made golf sound like a heavyweight fight. And Weir certainly looked the part when he birdied the second hole, won the fourth when Woods made bogey from a bunker, and went 3 up on the par-5 sixth hole after Woods hit his tee shot out of bounds.

``It was similar to a Ryder Cup, especially early on,'' Woods said.

With a chance to go 4 up, Weir missed an 8-foot birdie try on the 10th hole.

Woods' approach to the 11th stopped 9 inches from the cup for birdie. He won the par-5 12th with an up-and-down birdie, and the match was square when Weir missed a 5-foot putt at No. 14 for his first bogey on his own ball the entire week.

Woods took his first lead when Weir's approach to the 15th trickled into the water hazard. He removed his shoes to hit, but splashed the ball over the green, handing Woods his first lead of the match.

``Once he got ahead, I wasn't going to let him finish it early,'' Weir said.

Instead, he ended up finishing off Woods.

``I've always had great respect for Mike,'' said Nicklaus, 2-1-1 as captain. ``He was put in an awfully difficult position this week, carrying the whole International team basically on his shoulders.''