COLUMBUS - Steve Stricker is still hurting from last year's "Miracle at Medinah" loss, but is hopeful that keeping the Presidents Cup is a step toward US golfers retaking the Ryder Cup.
The Americans held off a late Internationals fightback for an 18 1/2-15 1/2 Presidents Cup victory Sunday at Muirfield Village, their fifth win in a row in a rivalry they dominate 8-1-1. But the global side's comeback brought back memories of last year's Ryder Cup at Medinah, when Europeans took 8 1/2 points in singles for an unlikely 14 1/2-13 1/2 triumph, their seventh victory over the Americans in the past nine Ryder Cups.
Germany's Martin Kaymer made a five-foot putt on the 18th hole to beat Stricker and ensure Europe retained the Ryder Cup. "Last year still stings," Stricker said. "If you ask the guys that were on that team last year, I guarantee every one of them would think that last year at the Ryder Cup hurts a bit. "So I think it's important that we came here and got a win, moving forward in the right direction to try to win the Ryder Cup next year." Nine of the 12 US players who lost at Medinah were on the Presidents Cup-winning squad and 2012 US Ryder Cup captain David Love was an assistant to Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples.
On Sunday, the non-European side needed to win the last seven singles matches just to earn a draw but captured the first four and lost only after top-ranked Tiger Woods held on for a 1-up win over South African Richard Sterne. "It was a tough day I think for all of us," Stricker said. "I mean, it had a scenario brewing much like the Ryder Cup last year coming down to the end, so I think we can all take positives from this going forward to next year." The US squad will travel to Scotland next year to try and win back the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
Stricker had said he wanted no part of team events after the Ryder Cup defeat, but qualified as the oldest member of the US Presidents Cup team and went 3-2, forming a solid partnership with his youngest teammate, 20-year-old Jordan Spieth. "As golfers, we're dealt defeats all the time," Stricker said. "It's more about picking yourself up and dusting yourself off and getting ready to go again. "But I think it was a good step for all of us to win again." Some have suggested the Presidents Cup switch formats closer to the Ryder Cup, with fewer matches and a blind pairing system, but Love and Stricker prefer each event keeps its own style.
"We like this format. You can't hide any guys," Love said. "Everybody gets to play and it has always worked out well for us. It shows how strong our team is so it's a fun format." Mickelson, the only player in all 10 Presidents Cups, said he was worried at first that a second team event would make both less special but time has proven him wrong. "These become some of the most special weeks of my career. They are weeks we look back on fondly where friendships form that last a lifetime," Mickelson said. "We're the lucky side to be able to play in a team event every year and we've really had a lot of fun over the years."