Presidents Cup Report Cards: U.S. Team

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Presidents Cup Report Cards: U.S. Team By David Dusek Scott Verplank Overall Record: 4-0-0 Points earned: 4 Grade: A+ When Jack Nicklaus calls you his rock, you know you had a great week. Verplank's 2-0-0 record in the 2006 Ryder Cup is largely overlooked, but he has quietly become one of America's best match play competitors. Once again, the Texan went undefeated, this time in four matches, including an impressive 2-and-1 win in singles against Rory Sabbatini. He drives it straight, putts well and rarely makes mistakes. Verplank is not flashy, but it will be tough to keep him off the '08 Ryder Cup team. Click here to see the report cards for the International players
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Zach Johnson Overall Record: 2-2-0 Points earned: 2 Grade: C Coming off the four-week FedEx Cup playoffs, Johnson was one of the few players who seemed tired at the Presidents Cup. He sank a few nice putts and teamed up well with Stewart Cink on Thursday, but when paired with Charles Howell III against Ernie Els and Mike Weir in a four-ball match on Friday, nothing went right and they lost, 3 and 1. Johnson never led in his 2-and-1 loss to Adam Scott on Sunday.
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Lucas Glover Overall Record: 2-3-0 Points earned: 2 Grade: B- The former Clemson star who sounds like he's straight out of a John Wayne western can be a birdie machine, and he lit it up against the International team in two of his losing efforts. After barely missing the cut for the 2006 Ryder Cup team, Glover showed that he can deliver in international competition. Ernie Els dodged a bullet Sunday, winning 2 and 1 despite Glover's five birdies and one bogey. He only notched 2 points, but captain Nicklaus had to be proud of the rookie's performance.
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Jim Furyk Overall Record: 3-2-0 Points earned: 3 Grade: B- The grittiest player on the U.S. team burned the lip on a ton of putts this week at Royal Montreal. Once again Furyk was solid, and the picture of determination, but he didn't hit as many fairways and greens as expected. He earned 3 points, but he got a lot of help from Stewart Cink and Tiger Woods.
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Hunter Mahan Overall Record: 2-3-0 Points earned: 2 Grade: B- The rookie played exceptionally well when teamed with Steve Stricker in Thursday's foursome match. Mickelson said he wanted Mahan as his partner Friday in the first four-ball match, so his teammates clearly believe in his abilities. Still, his inexperience showed when he let a 1-up lead through nine holes turn into a 3-and-2 loss to K.J. Choi on Sunday. Get used to seeing this former Oklahoma State All-American playing for the U.S.
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Steve Stricker Overall Record: 3-2-0 Points earned: 3 Grade: B+ Everyone loves to win, but for a player who was in danger of losing his PGA Tour card just three years ago, you got the feeling that simply being on the team was a victory for Sticker. He handled the pressure well, and his putting stroke, leadership and confidence will be crucial for the U.S. in next year's Ryder Cup.
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Tiger Woods Overall Record: 3-2-0 Points earned: 3 Grade: B+ As the world's top-ranked player, Woods is held to the highest standard. He carried Charles Howell III to a win in foursomes Thursday, and he paired with Jim Furyk to go 1-1. After getting crushed by Vijay Singh and Stuart Appleby in Friday's four-ball match, they blew out Ernie Els and Adam Scott in Saturday's foursome match. But if Woods had been at Augusta National instead of Royal Montreal, he would not have missed that putt at the 17th or blown his drive into a hazard on the 18th to ensure Mike Weir's storybook win. Maybe fatherhood has made Woods sentimental?
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Stewart Cink Overall Record: 3-1-0 Points earned: 3 Grade: A- In the Sunday singles matches at the 2006 Ryder Cup, Cink demolished Europe's hottest player, Sergio Garcia, in one of the few bright spots for the United States. Cink was at it again in the singles at Royal Montreal, blitzing Nick O'Hern, 6 and 4, and providing the winning U.S. point. He was impressive in two come-from-behind wins: with Zach Johnson against Rory Sabbatini and Trevor Immelman in Thursday's foursomes, and with Jim Furyk against K.J. Choi and Angel Cabrera in Saturday's four-ball.
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Woody Austin Overall Record: 1-1-3 Points earned: 2.5 Grade: A- Aquaman was a rookie to international competition, but he sure didn't play like one. He provided the spark on Thursday that helped to ignite his partner, Phil Mickelson, as well as the rest of the U.S. team. His solid ball striking and clutch putting earned him everyone's respect, and if Austin doesn't qualify for the 2008 Ryder Cup team, it will be hard for Paul Azinger not to make him a captain's pick.
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Phil Mickelson Overall Record: 2-1-2 Points earned: 3 Grade: A- Finally, a performance in international competition that Mickelson can feel good about. Teamed with Austin on Thursday and Saturday, Lefty hit great shots, provided solid leadership and won some hard-earned points. He lost to Retief Goosen and Angel Cabrera in Friday's four-ball match when teamed with Hunter Mahan, but he won two holes on the back nine to pull the match to all-square with four holes to play. Don't read too much into Mickelson's 5-and-4 win over Vijay Singh; he was only two under through 14 holes. Still, it was refreshing to see Mickelson visibly fired up throughout the event. He clearly came to play.
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David Toms Overall Record: 4-0-1 Points earned: 4.5 Grade: A+ At the Ryder Cup last year, Toms earned just a half-point in three days. What a difference a year makes — Toms hit fairways, made putts and went undefeated en route to becoming the U.S. team's top point earner. He never seems to get much attention in international competitions, but he has a game built for match play and plenty of experience. A wonderful performance from an underappreciated talent.
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Charles Howell III Overall Record: 2-2-0 Points earned: 2 Grade: C- He made six birdies in seven holes to come from behind in singles against Stuart Appleby, but a balky putter in foursomes and four-ball matches put pressure on Howell's partners. Of the young guns on the squad, Howell will have the most to prove in 2008 if he wants to compete for Azinger at Valhalla. Click here to see the report cards for the International players