Tiger Woods ignored an aching back at the end of a marathon weekend to clinch a dramatic Presidents Cup victory for the United States over the Internationals.
The 14-time major champion scored the clinching point in an 18 1/2-15 1/2 triumph by edging South African Richard Sterne 1-up in singles at rain-soaked Muirfield Village, then said he has had enough of golf for a while.
“I’m a little bit sore and certainly I’m looking forward to not touching a club for a while,” Woods said.
Sterne took a bogey at 16 to put Woods 1-up and the US star halved the last two holes to win, knowing that singles matches before the Cup is clinched go extra holes to decide a winner.
“I wasn’t feeling my best coming down the stretch and happened to get a 1-up lead. I was just trying to hang onto that,” Woods said.
“I knew I wasn’t feeling good and if I happened to mess up 18 and we had to continue playing until it was decided – I was like, I really don’t want to play any more, just can I win, can I halve this last hole, and it ended up being that way.”
Heavy rain fell all four days of the event, playing havoc with the schedule and making the course a muddy slog for players while forcing Woods to play 31 holes over three matches on Saturday and 27 holes on Sunday.
“It has been a long week for all of us,” the world number one said. “Our physios did a hell of a job keeping us out there and keeping us going, especially with all the starts and stops and so many holes. I’ve never played three matches in a day before.”
Woods enjoyed winning the trophy-clinching point for the third Presidents Cup in a row, all under US captain Fred Couples.
“To have the opportunity to win the Cup for Freddie and all the guys on the team, it means a lot to me,” Woods said.
It didn’t come easily. The Americans needed four points in singles and took three with seven matches remaining, but Woods was the only US winner in those last matches.
“Yeah, you are nervous. I must have asked 500 times where is the fourth point coming from,” Couples said. “At no given time was I a nervous wreck, but it was nice when Tiger two-putted that last green.”
It was an eventful week for Woods, whose girlfriend, US ski star Lindsey Vonn, startled him by putting a baby squirrel on his right shoulder.
Vonn found herself stuck in a golf cart on a muddy hillside on Sunday before Amy Mickelson and Matt Kuchar rescued her.
And Woods was tested by 41st-ranked Sterne, an unfamiliar face to most US fans.
“It doesn’t get any tougher than playing against Tiger Woods,” Sterne said. ”That was a pretty tough task but I gave Tiger a good go.
“So to hit the shots as good as I did and to play as calm and relaxed as I did will help me a lot going forward.”
Internationals captain Nick Price was proud of his team’s rally, winning four matches in a row with the US on the brink of clinching to create some late drama.
“We’re a real hodgepodge team that came from the four corners of the world and gave the might of America a run for their money,” Price said.
“The all played incredibly well. They tried their hardest and I’m proud to be their captain.”
Aussie Jason Day won the first singles point 6 and 4 over Brandt Snedeker. The Muirfield Village member won four of the first six holes and led all the way.
Hunter Mahan answered for the hosts, beating Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama 3 and 2. Mahan birdied six and seven to take the lead for good and prevent an Internationals run.
Jason Dufner, who won the PGA Championship two months ago, edged the US closer by beating Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge 4 and 3. Dufner led from start to finish and won after de Jonge hit his tee shot way left into trees at the par-5 15th.
Canada’s Graham DeLaet chipped in from a bunker at the 18th hole to beat Jordan Spieth 1-up.
Zach Johnson beat South African Branden Grace 4 and 2 to put the US on the brink of victory.
But Adam Scott edged Bill Haas 2 and 1 and South African four-time major winner Ernie Els outlasted Steve Stricker 1-up to keep Internationals hopes alive for a draw.
The tension increased as Aussie Marc Leishman made a 10-foot par putt at 18 to edge Matt Kuchar 1-up and South African Charl Schwartzel beat Keegan Bradley 2 and 1 before Woods ended the drama.
Webb Simpson led for 16 of 17 holes but gave South African Louis Oosthuizen the last to halve their match and Phil Mickelson gave Argentina’s Angel Cabrera the last putt, hole and the match 1-up to create the final margin.