By Ann Liguori
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Yes, critics are shouting about how dominant the United States was last week and how lopsided the outcomes have been throughout the history of the Presidents Cup.
The Americans crushed the International team to retain the Cup, 19-11, and now own a 10-1-1 record since the biennial event started in 1994.
Even before this year’s Presidents Cup started, many were questioning what could or should be done to prevent such U.S. supremacy. After all, the red, white and blue side brought an 11-point lead into Sunday’s singles matches and needed only one point to retain the Cup.
The Americans showed their superiority in four of the five sessions. On Saturday, they won six of the eight matches and halved another. Coming into Sunday, the Internationals had only won two of the 18 total matches played.
But people have to stop complaining about the U.S. team’s dominance. Let’s instead celebrate how impressive the American men were, how young and talented they were. Six of the 12 players on the team were in their 20s.
Let’s enjoy what the U.S. team accomplished. It put on a dazzling display of shot-making, putting, teamwork, sportsmanship, and camaraderie. And what a showcase it was for the players.
Needing only one-half point to get the celebration going, Daniel Berger clinched the Cup in the fourth match on Sunday, a 2 and 1 win over Si Woo Kim. Berger, at all of 24, became the youngest player to clinch the Cup for either side.
The six U.S. Presidents Cup rookies combined for a record of 11-7-4. Justin Thomas led the way by going 3-1-1, draining putts from all over the place. Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed became just the 11th team in tournament history to earn at least three points, posting a 3-0-1 record.
Four Americans went undefeated: Dustin Johnson (4-0-1), Rickie Fowler (3-0-1), Phil Mickelson (3-0-1), and Kevin Kisner (2-0-2).
U.S. assistant captain Tiger Woods called the team “one of the best putting teams I’ve seen. I know that they are young, they are talented, hit the ball a long way, but in the end, look at how many more putts we made. Probably from 15 to 18, it was pretty impressive to watch.”
Mickelson played in his record 12th singles match, defeating Adam Hadwin 2 and 1, and is now 4-5-3 in Presidents Cup singles play. The 47-year-old knows that the young guns on the team are something special.
“It’s just exciting to see these great young players bring out the best in each other and play their best golf in these events. It’s exciting,” Mickelson said. “I’ve believed and known how good these players are. I’ve seen it, how talented these guys are, and for them to bring out the best in each other is just impressive. You don’t get a performance like we had this week without that little something extra, that little special something, and these guys brought it out in each other.”
And while we can — and should — celebrate the U.S. victory, let’s give some credit to the Internationals. They hung in there during Sunday’s singles matches, didn’t throw in the towel, and won that session, 7 1/2-4 1/2. Only Berger, Mickelson and Fowler won their singles matches, while Kevin Chappell, Johnson and Kisner halved theirs.
When International Team captain Nick Price was asked what he said to U.S. captain Steve Stricker while congratulating him, Price told NBC: “(I said) you’ve got a hell of a team, enjoy the ride. This is a juggernaut of a U.S. team. I think we all knew that going into this week. And every time we had any momentum early on in the rounds, they would shut our momentum down. And that’s a sign that they’re an overpowering team.
“They’ve played some phenomenal golf this week,” Price added. “The quality of golf yesterday in that breezy, cool weather was just incredible. We kept losing holes to birdies. It wasn’t like we were making bogeys and double bogeys. These guys were firing on all eight cylinders and it was tough to watch. Especially being on the receiving end of it.”
Price and his entire team were the epitome of class the entire week, despite being dominated by the U.S. the first three days.
It was a great week for the Americans. Please try to savor it.
Follow Ann on Twitter at @AnnLiguori