Ecstasy, pain & tension in mix

Heartbreak for Bae as Bill Haas justifies dad's pick to clinch Presidents Cup for the US

World No. 1 Jordan Spieth obliges fans after the United States edged out the Internationals to win the Presidents Cup for the ninth time.
World No. 1 Jordan Spieth obliges fans after the United States edged out the Internationals to win the Presidents Cup for the ninth time. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO
A shattered Bae Sang Moon is consoled by his caddy after stubbing his chip approach.
A shattered Bae Sang Moon is consoled by his caddy after stubbing his chip approach.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE- PRESSE

INCHEON • The United States yesterday won their sixth Presidents Cup in a row by edging out the International team 151/2-141/2 in a day of high drama and emotion.

Bill Haas brought tears to the eyes of his father, US captain Jay Haas, when he closed out the victory on the 18th hole of a nail-biting final singles match, beating hometown hero Bae Sang Moon at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club.

Fighting back his emotions, Haas Sr said, "Yeah, I don't know if I'm going to get through this. I can't," and then burst into tears, his voice breaking. "Before Bill played No. 17, I said, 'Come on, Bill, win one for your mom here. Your mom deserves this'."

It was heartbreak for Bae and the huge home galleries watching as he fluffed a chip from short of the green attempting to win the hole and square the match. That would have given the Internationals a 15-15 tie and a share of the Cup for only the second time.

Haas was in the greenside sand but safely escaped to six feet, and when Bae could not hole his fourth, he conceded the match to the American. It was a dramatic denouement to a see-saw day that began with the US leading 91/2-81/2.

No fewer than seven of the 12 singles on a bitterly cold, windy and wet day went to the final hole as a succession of the world's best players suffered huge upsets.

World No. 1 Jordan Spieth was two up after two holes against Marc Leishman. But the Australian, ranked 36 places lower than the double Major champion, refused to be intimidated. He squared the match at the 14th.

And when Spieth took an uncharacteristic seven at the par-five 15th after finding the water with his third shot, Leishman had the lead. He then sank an eight-footer for birdie at the l8th for a colossal win.

Earlier, fourth-ranked double Masters champion Bubba Watson had missed a three-footer on No. 18 to hand a half-point to Thai veteran Thongchai Jaidee, ranked 31st.

When India's Anirban Lahiri reached the final green against Chris Kirk all square, he was faced with an almost identical putt to secure a half-point. But his shot lipped out, giving the US an unexpected win at a pivotal moment.

"The truth of it is, is that if we got off to a better start on Thursday and we had not been 1-4 down (in foursomes), it might not have been quite as exciting today," said International skipper Nick Price.

"So we all feel for Anirban and for Moon for what happened. But they are part of our team, and we will leave here as a team."

Australia's Adam Scott had levelled the match at 91/2-91/2 when he bagged the first point of the day with a 6-and-5 hammering of Rickie Fowler, ranked No. 5.

South African Louis Oosthuizen had won all four of his matches up till yesterday but was behind most of the way against Patrick Reed. Yet he holed a dramatic eagle putt on No. 18 to snatch a half for the Internationals.

Compatriot Branden Grace was also on four wins out of four from the first three days and showed no sign of letting up in the singles. He holed a monster 62-foot putt on the ninth to go five up on Matt Kuchar and when he closed it out on the 17th, he joined elite company in winning five points for the week.

Only Mark O'Meara (1996), Shigeki Maruyama (1998), Tiger Woods (2009) and Jim Furyk (2011) had previously achieved the feat in Presidents Cup history.

But it was to be the Americans' day, with Phil Mickelson, in his 11th Presidents Cup, justifying his captain's pick. He completed a 5-and-4 drubbing of Charl Schwartzel - with the highlight a trademark chip-in birdie from thick rough to win the 11th hole.

"I love these team events. They are my favourite weeks of the year," said the 45-year-old.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2015, with the headline 'Ecstasy, pain & tension in mix'. Subscribe