The United States’ late rally seals victory at inaugural World Champions Cup

Mark McGowan
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US team captain Jim Furyk with his winning side (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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David Toms was the hero as the United States came from behind to secure victory at the inaugural World Champions Cup at The Concession Golf Club in Florida, narrowly edging out the International side with Team Europe bringing up the rear.

After two days of nine-hole ‘sixball’ and ‘sixsomes’ matches – one session of each on both Friday and Saturday, it was down to singles on Sunday and team captains Darren Clarke, Ernie Els and Jim Furyk each provided their playing orders with one man from each team playing three-way matchplay with three points per hole up for grabs in each of the two sessions.

The International team led by a half-point going into the final day, and stretched their advantage to 1.5 points after the first six matches with Els putting in a captain’s display in collecting 12 points in his tie with Justin Leonard and Robert Karlsson.

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In the second session, the Internationals again stretched their advantage in each of the opening four matches, but in the penultimate match, Bill Andrade collected 11 points to Vijay Singh’s seven and Miguel Angel Jiménez’ nine to keep American hopes alive, and in the anchor match, David Toms needed to beat Retief Goosen by three to ensure victory.

Though European chances had eroded, Bernhard Langer would collect the lion’s share in the final match with 11.5, but Toms birdied the second-last hole to go three-up on Goosen and stretched that lead to 4.5 points on the final hole to secure victory.

“So happy for this team, these guys are awesome,” said team captain Furyk in the immediate aftermath. “We’re all good friends. Billy Andrade won on the 9th hole, David Toms No. 8. We were two and a half points down in a flash in the last — two of the last three holes. I’m trying to walk out there to tell DT what to do, didn’t say a word. Worse piece of captaining ever. He said no, no, no, don’t tell. I said, OK, but after the shot he definitely knew coming up what we had to do.

“The Internationals played great all week. I feel a little bit for them that they couldn’t gain that ground, momentum. Got six up kind of mid back nine and these guys just played their hearts out and played tough.”

Having come so close only to see victory snatched from under their noses on the final two holes, Els felt that the week was a huge success and felt for his fellow countryman Goosen who was unfortunate to find a horrible lie on his final hole that led to a double-bogey that handed the title to the US.

“Yeah, the U.S. team played solid,” Els said. “Coming down the stretch, I played with Brett Quigley, he made a solid birdie on 17 and a solid par on 18. No. 18 was playing tough and the U.S. guys just kept grinding out the 18th. We just couldn’t make that one putt up the hill. I missed it, K.J. missed it, Vijay missed it. Unfortunately, Retief had such a tough lie.

“What a week, what a format. This thing works.”

Despite a disappointing end result, European Team Captain Clarke really enjoyed the experience and felt that a poor second day had been the Europeans’ downfall.

“Yeah, it was brilliant,” he said. “The whole event was fabulous. It was a little bit difficult there at the end seeing the scoring and stuff because maybe could have had another scoreboard or two out there to see what’s going on.

“It was great. We just — unfortunately we found ourselves with a lot to do coming into today.
We knew that anyway. The International guys and the American guys just played better than
we have this week unfortunately. Made a few more putts than Team Europe did, but that’s
what a team event — that’s what golf is sometimes, especially in the team events.”

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