On Sunday, the American team settled the score at the Royal Melbourne GC, rewriting the history of their 1998 defeat against the international team by winning 19-15 (a much better result than the humiliating 20 ½-11 ½ of 13 years ago) in the Presidents Cup. While the overall performance of the team is a huge accomplishment given the previous loss on the very same course, the real Cinderella stories are found in players Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk.
Tiger Woods was an understandably controversial pick for captain of this year’s team. Critics of the decision included Greg Norman, the International team captain. Nevertheless, Tiger stepped up to the plate in a very big way. He birdied five of his first 11 holes and even managed to score a 1-and-3 victory against Australian player Aaron Baddeley. Tiger’s victories on the course were not limited merely to his scorecard. Finishing with a record of 2-3, Tiger took the high road and shook hands with his former caddie, Steve Williams, even though Williams had recently made some unsavory comments about his former boss. Through his performance on the course and his civility in his behavior, Tiger took quite a few steps towards restoring his former glory and reputation.
While Tiger proved himself an able player and captain, the real hero of the Cup was undoubtedly Jim Furyk. Furyk became the fourth player to earn all five possible points. That’s not the fourth player in this year’s Cup. That’s the fourth player in the history of the Cup. He even wrapped up his 5-0 record with a 4-and-3 victory over Ernie Els. This accomplishment is all the more pronounced given that Furyk, who has been a member of the United States team in every Ryder and Presidents Cup since 1996, suffered a completely winless season. On Tuesday, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk announced that they wanted to play together. This partnership proved incredibly fruitful as it resulted in victories in the first three sessions. Furyk revealed both pride and humility at a news conference as he spoke of his performance in the Cup: “I struggled so much this year and played poorly and probably – well, definitely – the worst of anybody that’s sitting here right now.”
In their professional and personal performances, the players of the United States team proved themselves worthy of the honor of the Presidents Cup.