JERSEY CITY, N.J. – President Donald Trump showed up about an hour after the final match was underway Sunday at the Presidents Cup. Had he shown up much later, he might have missed the start of a long celebration for an American team that rarely had it this easy.
This really was over before it started.
“Honestly, it was really weird being out there today, knowing there was no chance of losing,” Dustin Johnson said after going unbeaten in five matches. “I don’t know how to explain it, but it was like playing golf with my buddies. We were going to win no matter what.”
The Americans so thoroughly defeated and demoralized the International team that they needed just one point from 12 singles matches to win the gold trophy. Daniel Berger delivered the cup-clinching moment in the fourth match.
Charley Hoffman, one of five Americans who had never experienced cup competition as a pro, chased after Berger and sprayed him with champagne, and then Berger grabbed the bottle for a guzzle before passing it over to U.S. captain Steve Stricker.
The final score was 19-11, the seventh straight victory for the Americans. They extended their dominance to 10-1-1 in this contest, if it can even be called that.
“This is a juggernaut of a U.S. team,” said Nick Price, in his third and final stint of the International captain, all of them losses. “They’re an overpowering team that played some phenomenal golf. It was tough to watch, especially being on the receiving end.”
The only consolation was keeping the Americans from a record rout.
Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott and Jhonattan Vegas each won their first point of the week as the International team won the singles session. That kept the Americans from becoming the first team to win every session in the Presidents Cup.
No matter. All they really wanted was the cup, and the only difference this year was who gave it to them. Trump became the first sitting president to attend the final day of the Presidents Cup, and the first to present the team with the trophy.
“They came in here riding a ton of momentum and a ton of confidence,” Stricker said. “It was about getting out of their way.”
So thorough was this beating that Hoffman and Kevin Chappell could have clinched the cup Saturday evening if they had won their fourballs match. Stricker sent them out at the top of his lineup to give them a chance to finish the job. Chappell nearly did, doubling over when he missed a 20-foot birdie putt and halved his match with Marc Leishman. Hoffman was beaten by Jason Day, a former world No. 1 who had gone nine straight matches without winning until a 2-and-1 victory.
Instead, the clinching match fell to Berger, who had told Sky Sports in an interview Saturday, “Our goal from the minute we got here was to crush them as bad as we can. I hope that we close them out today and we go out there tomorrow and beat them even worse.”
After each session, as the margin kept getting larger, the talk was whether this U.S. team was as good as any. Stricker simply had 12 players who were on top of their games. Phil Mickelson at No. 30 had the lowest world ranking on this team and was the only player who didn’t make it to the Tour Championship.
He also gets credit as an architect behind a new American model of developing continuity and familiarity as they move from the Ryder Cup to the Presidents Cup each year. And it helps that the young core of this team has a blast with each other.
“I’ve seen it, how talented these guys are, and for them to bring out the best in each other is just impressive,” Mickelson said. “You don’t get a performance like we had this week without that little something extra, that little special something, and these guys brought it out in each other.”
Mickelson did his part by going 3-0-1 for the week. This was his 23rd consecutive team, including every Presidents Cup, and Sunday was his 100th career match. He won it on the 17th hole against Adam Hadwin.
“It was weird to have a stress-free Sunday singles,” Mickelson said.
It was a familiar outcome for Jordan Spieth, who still hasn’t won a singles match in his five Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup appearances combined. That didn’t dampen his mood. So lopsided were these matches that Patrick Reed said the Americans could have sent out three players on Sunday and figured out how to get one point.
“Not if I was one of them,” Spieth cracked.
The International team has not won since 1998 at Royal Melbourne. It looked as though it was turning the corner two years ago in South Korea when the Presidents Cup came down to the final two matches in a thriller. This was a snoozer.
“It was a bit of a slaughtering this week,” Scott said. “We’ve got to stand up and take our (butt) whipping like men and walk out of here with our heads high.”
They have to wait two years to try again at Royal Melbourne.
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