World Cup glory for americans
Triumphant Americans Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland voted to keep the World Cup in Hainan for the foreseeable future after developing a love affair with Mission Hills and China yesterday.
With question marks over title sponsor Omega's continued involvement and changes afoot, a 'jazzed up' Kuchar said he and Woodland wanted to come back.
'This is a fantastic resort,' he said. 'Most majors move and it's fun that way, but this is a great place and I look forward to coming back.'
Kuchar and Woodland proved a class act on the course - and off - as they emerged with a two-stroke victory over Germany (Martin Kaymer and Alex Cejka) and England (Justin Rose and Ian Poulter).
Omega is demanding changes in the event's format, its timing on the calendar, its place on the world map, along with the world's best paying it more respect, but that meant little to Kuchar, who likened the week's experience to winning an Olympic event.
It started with the opening ceremony last Wednesday and ended with the Stars and Stripes being played yesterday, which moved the world No 10.
'It felt like something similar to the Olympics,' he said.
'It's a dream for all kids to be champions for their nation in an Olympic sport and it's as close as I've felt and anyone in golf has been able to feel up to this point.
'I could not be more excited. I'm so jazzed up to have won this event,' he said.
'For Gary and I to put our name on this trophy is a real honour,' Kuchar said. 'To be able to walk through the halls here and see our photos and faces and to be remembered here as World Cup champions ... what a cool place this is.'
Woodland said: 'This is something that can't be taken away from us. It is an honour to be on trophy with other great Americans. Most of those great names won it multiple times and hopefully Matt and I can put our names on it more than once.'
The World Cup was switched to a biennial event after being played at Mission Hills' Shenzhen/Dongguan complex in 2009 and Kuchar believed that had helped its revival.
'The biennial move is a good one as it creates more excitement and a little more want for it that the extra year off gives.'
'The field has to be one of strongest for some time,' Kuchar said. 'Coming to China is a big trip and I think it played a part in some peoples' decisions.'
Kuchar and Woodland started the day two strokes behind Ireland duo Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, but had received some secret inspiration.
'I got a text message from Phil Mickelson this morning saying go out and make some birdies early, you guys can win this thing and bring another one home for the United States,' Kuchar said.
'After playing a few final rounds with Phil, it's amazing how aggressive he is. It's fun to watch. He goes out to win, not salvage a top five.'
They followed Mickelson's advice, opened with two birdies then proved the best when it counted.
The United States have won 24 of the 56 World Cups and their first since 2000 when Tiger Woods and David Duval were successful in Argentina.
England were the day's other big 'winners', storming up the leaderboard with an eight-under 63 to grab a share of second.
Hong Kong-bound Ian Poulter, who will try to defend his title at Fanling this week, and Justin Rose, who will make his debut at the Hong Kong Golf Club, were left to rue their third-round 68 in the easier scoring fourballs (better ball) where they lost a lot of ground to the big teams.
Ireland had to settle for a share of fourth with Australia (Brendan Jones and Richard Green), Scotland (Stephen Gallacher and Martin Laird) and the Netherlands (Robert-Jan Derksen and Joost Luiten).
China (Liang Wenchong and Zhang Xinjun) finished in a tie with Thailand for 18th after a one-under 71, but their failure in the fourballs again demonstrated the gap between them and the rest of the world.