COLUMBUS (AFP) - Tiger Woods clinched the Presidents Cup for the United States for the third time in a row on Sunday, giving the Americans an insurmountable 18-14 lead over the Internationals at rain-soaked Muirfield Village.
World number one Woods edged 41st-ranked Richard Sterne of South Africa 1 up to secure the trophy, thwarting an Internationals fightback and boosting the Americans to 8-1-1 in the overall rivalry with their fifth win in a row.
Battling nagging back spasms over the final five holes, Woods won the par-3 16th with a par, chipped from the rough to inches from the hole at 17 and halved 18 for the victory.
"It feels good," Woods said. "It was a tough day, tough conditions, rain, wind all around.
"(My back) acted up from 14 on in. It keep getting worse, a little tight, but I think we can find something for it." His victory put the hosts up by four with only two matches on a course that saw heavy rain for the fourth day in a row, forcing lift, clean and place rules to be used.
"We've all slogged it out and did our best," said 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia.
It was the third triumph for Fred Couples as the US captain, all having ended Woods taking the winning point.
"Three in a row and Tiger has the winning point all three times - that's pretty good," Couples said.
Internationals captain Nick Price was proud of the rally, winning four matches in a row with the US on the brink of clinching to create some drama until Woods came through.
"Against the might of America, that was a tall order for us," Price said.
"The all played incredibly well. They tried their hardest and I'm proud to be their captain." Aussie Jason Day won the first singles point 6 and 4 over Brandt Snedeker.
The Muirfield Village member won four of the first six holes and led all the way.
"I just wanted to finish off with a bang," Day said.
Hunter Mahan answered for the hosts, beating Japan's Hideki Matsuyama 3 and 2. Mahan birdied six and seven to take the lead for good and prevent an Internationals run.
"It is critical. You can't give them momentum," Mahan said. "I got off to a good start and felt like I was in control from there." Jason Dufner, who won the PGA Championship two months ago, edged the US closer by beating Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge 4 and 3.
Dufner led from start to finish and won after de Jonge hit his tee shot way left into trees at the par-5 15th.
Canada's Graham DeLaet chipped in from a bunker at the 18th hole to beat Jordan Spieth 1-up.
Zach Johnson beat South African Branden Grace 4 and 2 to put the US on the brink of victory.
But Scott edged Bill Haas 2 and 1 and South African four-time major winner Ernie Els outlasted Steve Stricker 1-up to keep Internationals hopes alive for a draw.
Aussie Marc Leishman made a 10-foot par putt at 18 to edge Matt Kuchar 1-up and South African Charl Schwartzel beat Keegan Bradley 2 and 1 before Woods ended the drama.
The US team won 2 1/2 key points in foursomes matches that ended Sunday morning.
A foursomes key was when Snedeker and Simpson, 3-down after 12 at nightfall, won four of the last six holes to beat Schwartzel and Oosthuizen 1-up.
"I can't believe we did it but I'm happy to get the win," said Simpson.
Els and De Jonge won 1-up over Woods and Kuchar, delivering the US duo's first defeat when Els made a five-foot par putt at 18.
Stricker and Haas beat Scott and Matsuyama 4 and 3 while DeLaet and Day halved with Mickelson and Bradley.