A crushing loss for Woods, but a lead for the US
Tiger Woods made the first move, reaching out to shake hands
with his ex-caddie, that went a long way toward dousing the endless
chatter over their acrimonious breakup.
Twelve holes later, as short a Presidents Cup match that has
ever been played, Steve Williams had the last laugh.
In the 112 matches of various formats that Woods has played in
his professional career, he never had a loss like this one. Playing
again with Steve Stricker, an American tandem that was unbeatable
two years ago, they didn’t win a hole and didn’t make a birdie in
tying the Presidents Cup record for the worst loss ever, 7 and
Adam Scott – with Williams on his bag, kept his distance from
Woods until they shook hands on the 12th green – and K.J. Choi
rarely missed a shot in piling up pars and more than enough
birdies. The foursomes match ended with Scott rolling in a 25-foot
birdie putt on the 11th, and stuffing his approach into 10 feet for
Choi’s birdie on their final hole.
”We were just slightly off,” Woods said. ”On a golf course
like this, it doesn’t take much.”
That match was the biggest surprise on an opening day that
featured a few unlikely twists at the end, with the Americans
making two late rallies to halve matches and leaving Royal
Melbourne with a 4-2 lead over the International team.
It was the third straight time the Americans have won the
The Woods-Williams pairing was the last to tee off, and the
second match to finish. That’s how big this blowout was.
”K.J. and I didn’t get it out of position today, which is a
good thing on this golf course,” Scott said. ”We both played very
well. They got out of position a couple of times, and they didn’t
play their best. Yeah, a good win. Because they were a tough team
last time, took a lot of points off us. So it was pleasing to get
one up there.”
The caddie squabble meant nothing to Scott, who has tried to
stay out of the fray, even after Williams disparaged Woods with a
racial comment while getting roasted at a caddies award dinner two
weeks ago in Shanghai.
Woods didn’t make too much of it, either.
”I put my hand out there to shake it, and life goes forward,”
he said. ”There’s some great things that Steve and I did, and
that’s how I look at it. I know he probably looks at it differently
than I do, but hey – life goes forward, and I’m very happy with
what we’ve done in our career together.”
Stricker was playing for the first time since Sept. 25 at the
Tour Championship because of a neck injury that weakened his left
arm. He hooked a tee shot on the par-5 second that kept them from a
birdie, though neither of them played well. It was Woods who put
them in a bunker on the fifth, and whose tee shot went through the
fairway and into an unplayable lie in a bush, both leading to
bogeys during a key stretch early in the round when fell 4
The only other match in Presidents Cup history that lasted 12
holes was in Sunday singles in 1996, when David Frost beat Kenny
Woods and Stricker started their partnership by winning six
straight matches, though the last two were big losses – 6 and 5
against Lee Westwood and Luke Donald at the Ryder Cup last year in
Wales, and the 7-and-6 loss to Scott and Choi.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that while the Americans staked
themselves to the lead, their only loss – and their weakest team –
was Woods and Stricker. Couples split them up for Friday’s
fourballs – Woods with Johnson, Stricker with Kuchar, although that
was the plan earlier in the week.
It will be the first time since the 2007 Presidents Cup at Royal
Montreal that Woods has another partner besides Stricker.