BY DOUG FERGUSON
JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — President Donald Trump looked over at an American team that never had it so easy in the Presidents Cup and delivered an unassailable message in fewer than 140 characters.
“I have to say our Team USA, wow. Did you play well,” Trump said.
The Americans were never better.
They didn’t become the first team to win all five sessions, the only source of motivation on Sunday. They didn’t win by the widest margin since these matches against the International team began in 1994.
So powerful was this U.S. team that it needed to do little more than show up.
Daniel Berger, one of five newcomers to the American team, delivered the decisive point in the fourth of 12th singles matches. Phil Mickelson, a part of 23 consecutive team events, won the final point in his 100th career singles match.
The score was 19-11, and it could have been worse.
“Honestly, it was really weird being out there today, knowing there was no chance of losing,” Dustin Johnson who halved his match on the final hole to miss out on a 5-0 mark at Liberty National. “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.”
Two years after the Presidents Cup came down to the final two matches in South Korea, this one nearly ended on Saturday.
“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 Americans won for the seventh time, and the eight-point margin was their widest since 2000 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia.
The only suspense was the trophy presentation.
Trump was the first sitting president to attend the final day of matches, and he stuck around to hand out the cup.
“I thought it was a great thrill,” Stricker said. “I thought it was a great opportunity for us to be with him. And this tournament is about respecting the office, respecting the president of the United States, and whether your views may be one way versus another, that wasn’t what it was about out there on the green. It was about us getting together as a team, playing for one another, playing for the USA and it was a great thrill for all of us to get the trophy handed to us from him.”
Inside the ropes, it was all about domination.
“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 loaded were the Americans but all but one of their 12-man team — Mickelson — reached the FedEx Cup finale at the Tour Championship last week. Three of them won majors this year. And they all were at their best against an International team that had no chance.
“It was a bit of a slaughtering this week,” said Adam Scott, who played in his eighth Presidents Cup and still doesn’t know what it’s like to win.
Scott, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama, largely ineffective during the team formats, finally showed some semblance of their games and won matches on Sunday. Day ended a streak of nine success Presidents Cup matches without winning. Matsuyama had to be at his best. He made or was conceded eight birdies and an eagle, and he still had to go 17 holes before beating PGA champion Justin Thomas.
Jordan Spieth still hasn’t won a singles match in his five appearances at the Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup, though he didn’t lose his sense of humor. So lopsided were the matches that Patrick Reed said the Americans could have suited up only three players on Sunday and still figured out how to get one point.
“Not if I was one of them,” Spieth said at his self-deprecating best.
The International team was left to figure out how to make it close, much less win. Price successfully reduced the total number of matches the last time from 34 to 30 because fewer matches would help keep it close. No change in format or anything else would have prevented this one-sided affair.
“We all love playing in it,” Price said. “It’s just a question of how do we make it a little bit competitive.”
The Americans were already looking ahead — not to 2019 when the Presidents Cup returns to Melbourne, but next year in France for the Ryder Cup. The Americans had six players in their 20s at the Presidents Cup, which figures to form a core for years to come.
“You start to kind of look forward and wonder where this momentum could take us,” Spieth said.
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