U.S. Wins Presidents Cup

MONTREAL (AP) -- The Presidents Cup didn't end in another tie, but it sure felt that way Sunday.

The Americans celebrated another victory, taking more than enough singles matches at Royal Montreal to make a winner out of captain Jack Nicklaus again and capture their first cup on international soil in 14 years.

Even more rowdier were those Canadians crammed into the bleachers and pressed against the ropes, waving the Maple Leaf flag, cheering and chanting at every turn as their beloved Mike Weir won the last two holes to take down Tiger Woods.

"When he won on 18, you could hear it all the way to Kansas City," International captain Gary Player said.

The final cheer was for the consolation prize.

The Presidents Cup went to a United States team that was overwhelming in the team matches and good enough in singles for its second straight victory over the International team, 19 1/2 -14 1/2 .

David Toms earned the most points. Scott Verplank won all four of his matches. 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.

As usual, the inspiration and laughs came from Nicklaus, a seven-time runner-up at the Canadian Open who finally left the Great White North with a shiny gold trophy.

"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."

The Canadians found something equally special.

The cheers were relentless on a spectacular autumn day, and they carried the former Masters champion from a sudden collapse to an unlikely victory. Woods was 1 up with two holes to play when Weir made a 10-foot birdie putt to win the 17th, then watched as Woods pulled a tee shot that splashed into a pond -- right in front of a Canadian flag that fans were holding behind the ropes.

"It's mixed emotions for sure," Weir said. "Our team didn't win. I won a point. It's only one point."

But what a point it was.

Woods beat Greg Norman when the Presidents Cup was in Australia, and he beat Ernie Els in South Africa four years ago. Weir only made the team as a captain's pick, but he was the International team's best player -- especially Sunday.

"Obviously, winning the Masters was such a thrill," Weir said. "But to play Tiger ... he's the best player there is, and I had to play my absolute best today to beat him."

Woods and Weir shared a hug on the 18th green as the gallery roar again, filling the air with chants of "Mike! Mike! Mike!"

"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."

The Americans were superb, too.

Verplank completed a 4-0 week with birdies on the 16th and 17th to beat Rory Sabbatini, 2 and 1. Phil Mickelson hammered Vijay Singh, closing him out on the 14th hole while wearing soft spikes. Stewart Cink delivered the cup-clinching 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 since 1993. They seem to have no trouble against an equally strong International team, winning this week on the strength of capturing 10 1/2 points from 11 foursomes matches.

"It was going to be a miracle for us to win this thing," Ernie Els said.

The United States has a 5-1-1 lead in the Presidents Cup, and Player could only point to moral victories. It was the first time the International team had won the singles session.

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

A predictable outcome was saved by a match between the two biggest golf stars on the Ile Bizard -- Weir, the most popular golfer in Canada, and Woods, the most popular figure in golf.

With former President Bush on the first tee to greet every match, the crowd made golf sound like a heavyweight fight. And Weir certainly looked the part when he birdied the second hole, won the fourth hole 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 when he was 2 up and 3 up," Woods said.

With a chance to go 4 up, Weir missed an 8-foot birdie on the 10th hole, and Woods took a slight opening and kicked it open. His approach to the 11th stopped 9 inches from the cup for birdie. He won the par-5 12th with an up-and-down birdie short of the green, 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 out of the water, but splashed the ball over the green. Weir didn't quit, and the crowd sure didn't get more quiet. As he stood over a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th, the bleachers across the pond behind the 16th green stood in silence, then roared when the ball disappeared for birdie.

Nicklaus had said earlier in the week he put his players out to win every match. This time, however, he was hopeful of a tie after watching Weir and Woods play in such an electric atmosphere.

"I've always had great respect for Mike," Nicklaus said. "He was put in an awfully difficult position this week, carrying the whole International team basically on his shoulders. I thought it would be the best of both worlds."

Turns out it was.


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