Big win for the Americans, and for Weir
MONTREAL (AP) The United States won the Presidents Cup. Mike Weir gave Canada quite a consolation prize.
The Americans won enough of the singles matches Sunday to capture the Presidents Cup for the second straight time, giving them an international victory in cup competition for the first time since 1993.
That didn't stop the relentless cheers that rocked Royal Montreal on a spectacular autumn day, especially when Weir won the final two holes to beat Tiger Woods and send his country home feeling like a winner.
Weir won the Masters four years ago, and he wasn't sure which felt sweeter.
"It's right there with it," Weir said. "Obviously, winning the Masters was such a thrill, but to play Tiger ... he's the best player there is, and I had to play my absolute best today to beat him."
He needed some help from the world's No. 1 player.
With the match all square and Weir safely in the 18th fairway, Woods pulled his tee shot and watched it land in a pond, just a few yards short of a Canadian flag fans were holding behind the ropes.
Weir hit his approach to 15 feet, and after Woods' chip for par stopped rolling 2 inches from the cup, he conceded the putt.
By then, the Americans were celebrating something far more important.
"I lost," Woods said after changing into sneakers. "But the team won the cup, and that's the important thing."
The International team won seven matches, not nearly enough to avoid the inevitable: United States 19 1/2, International 14 1/2.
For the Americans, it was another victory for their beloved captain, Jack Nicklaus, who now is 2-1-1 in the Presidents Cup. It also was the first time Nicklaus won in Canada. He was runner-up seven times in the Canadian Open, including a playoff loss at Royal Montreal in 1975.
Woods and Weir shared a hug on the 18th green as thousands of fans crammed into the bleachers. The crowd covered every blade of grass around the green and chanted, "Mike! Mike! Mike!"
"I told him I was proud of how he handled himself," Wood said. "He had to carry and entire country on his shoulders. Not too many people can play as well as he did. He handled it magnificently."
The Americans were superb.
Scott 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. Woody Austin finally lost in a meaningless match against U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera, but he continued to keep the Canadian crowd entertained. Walking up the 14th fairway, Austin put on a mask to mock his plunge into the lake on the 14th hole Friday.
"Way to go, Aquaman," Mickelson called out to him.
The Americans needed to win only three matches to retain the gold cup, and Stewart Cink delivered the clinching point. He birdied the first five holes and beat Nick O'Hern, 6 and 4, for the largest margin of the week.
"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.
Verplank, a captain's pick last year who was mysteriously benched the first day of the Ryder Cup, extended his winning streak to six matches in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup. David Toms led the U.S. team with 4 1/2 points in five matches.
"Our guys can hold their heads up high," International captain Gary Player said. "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.
Then came the 18th, the decisive hole of the only match that seemed to matter. Two fans were holding the Canadian flag directly behind the pond, and it worked like a magnet.
"I pulled it just a touch," Woods said.
Woods returned to celebrate with the rest of the Americans, and the only thing left to settle was the final score.