INCHEON, South Korea: The United States on Sunday won its sixth Presidents Cup in a row by edging out the International team 15.5-14.5 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 slender victory on the 18th hole of a nail-biting final singles match, beating hometown hero Bae Sang-Moon at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea.
Fighting back his emotions, Haas senior 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 17, and 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. This 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 in which the US, leading 9.5-8.5 overnight, had at one point looked firmly in the driving seat before the Internationals fought back to share the singles 6-6.
Midway through the final 12 matches the US led in eight and were all square in two, needing just six points to secure the golden trophy for the ninth time in the event’s 11th edition on its first visit to Asia.
Slowly but surely the never-say-die Internationals reeled in their opponents to set up a nail-biting finish that had seemed highly unlikely when the US had raced to a 4-1 lead after Thursday’s foursomes.
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 number one Jordan Spieth was two up after two holes against Marc Leish¬man. But the laid-back Aussie, who is ranked 36 places lower than the double 2015 Major champion, refused to be intimidated.
He squared the match at 14th and when the under-pressure Spieth took an uncharacteristic seven at the par-five 15th after finding the water with his third shot, Leish¬man had the lead and showed nerves of steel to sink an eight-footer for birdie at the l8th for a colossal win.