Golf roundup: Americans win ninth straight Presidents Cup

AP photo by Julio Cortez / Tony Finau poses for a photo with a fan after the United States defeated the International team to win the Presidents Cup on Sunday at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Americans won the Presidents Cup again, no asterisk needed.

Sure, the International team lost at least four players, maybe more, who defected to LIV Golf and were deemed ineligible by the PGA Tour for joining the upstart rival series funded by Saudia Arabia.

A roster made up of players from outside the United States — but not Europe, which competes against the Americans in the Ryder Cup — had eight rookies asked to play before 40,000 flag-waving fans chanting for the home team. And the Internationals have never won on American soil since these lopsided matches began in 1994.

No matter. The Americans are tough to beat right now in any cup, under any circumstances.

Jordan Spieth made putts from all over Quail Hollow Club and capped off a 5-0 showing at the four-day event, Xander Schauffele delivered the cup-clinching point and lit up his big cigar Sunday, and the Americans won the Presidents Cup for the ninth straight time.

Anyone surprised?

"I think that the biggest challenge for us this week was staying within ourselves and not letting the outside noise get to us," Spieth said. "We saw notes ... put up all over the place that we were supposed to win and we're favorites and all that.

"What was so cool — which has been very consistent in the previous few cups that I've been involved in — is everyone's really, really good at what they do."

The final score was 17 1/2-12 1/2, not quite the rout it was at Liberty National in 2017 when this U.S. team started to take shape. The plucky International team still made them work for it.

Spieth and Patrick Cantlay were in control of their matches and set the tone. Even so, the Internationals kept it interesting, a resilient effort considering they were down 8-2 going into the weekend.

But then Tony Finau flipped his match, Collin Morikawa played like a two-time major champion, Schauffele delivered the winner and another celebration was on.

International captain Trevor Immelman referred to the LIV disruption as one of many hurdles facing his team. And he reacted strongly to any notion his 12 players — only three of them among the top 25 in the Official World Golf Ranking — never had a chance.

"When you consider that we were 8-2 down on Friday evening, this team is no joke, and I'm sick and tired of it being spoken of as a joke," Immelman said. "We love this event, and we love our team. And we cannot wait to run this back and have another shot."

The Internationals showed plenty of fight. They just don't have a trophy to show for it.

The Presidents Cup stays squarely in the hands of the country that was coming off a record romp over Europe in the Ryder Cup last year before another one-sided home crowd.

Even the American newcomers produced, starting with Max Homa. He rallied from 3 down by winning four straight holes and then holding off South Korean phenom Tom Kim for a 1-up victory that gave Homa a 4-0 week in his Presidents Cup debut.

U.S. Captain Davis Love III paid tribute to Immelman for having to fill out his team three weeks ago after British Open champion Cameron Smith of Australia and Chile's Joaquin Niemann were among the latest batch to join LIV.

Immelman's thoughts aside, this was a mismatch. The Internationals still made a game of it, and at one point the matches were tight enough that a shocker at Quail Hollow was still possible. They needed everything to go right, though, and it didn't.

"Trevor and his team did an incredible job of rising to the occasion," Love said.

All 12 players on Love's roster are ranked among the top 25 in the world, and just like last fall in the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, most of them played like it.

"We really don't have to do much," Love said. "All we have to do is not mess it up."

Spieth was in Sunday's second match out and made putts from 25 feet, 20 feet and 30 feet for par after driving into the water and 45 feet that made Cameron Davis feel hopeless. He closed out the Australian on the 15th hole.

Spieth became only the sixth player to win all five matches in the Presidents Cup, winning his team matches with Justin Thomas.

Spieth, a three-time major champion and former No. 1 player, first qualified for U.S. teams when he was 20, but he had never won a singles match. He was 0-3 in the Presidents Cup, 0-3-1 in the Ryder Cup.

And then he fell 2 down after two holes before turning it around in a big way.

"I was more nervous than I should have been because I wanted to get that monkey off my back," Spieth said. "When you get off early on a Sunday, they're looking for red on the board. And it feels good to provide it."

Thomas was trying to join him, but he lost to South Korea's Si Woo Kim in a match that came down to 10-foot birdie putts on the last hole.

Cantlay put red American numbers on the board quickly for a 3-up lead over Australia's Adam Scott and had lost only two holes in a 3-and-2 victory.

For Scott, it was another dose of disappointment. His first Presidents Cup in 2003 in South Africa ended in a tie. He has played on every team since then, all losses.

Still, he saw enough out of a scrappy team and the shield on their shirts with which they are starting to identify to not lose all hope.

"It still hurts not to win," he said. "I think the big difference I felt the last couple years is what's going on in our team room, what's going on between the captains and the players, the caddies, everybody involved on our team. I think good things are really starting to happen in that environment.

"A cup is coming our way soon."

LPGA: Rookie adds second victory

ROGERS, Ark. — Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand closed with a 3-under-par 68 and birdied the second playoff hole to beat Danielle Kang and win the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

The victory made the 19-year-old the first LPGA player in five years to win twice in her rookie season. Sung Hyun Park posted multiple wins in 2017.

Thitikul and the 29-year-old Kang finished the 54-hole event at Pinnacle Country Club tied at 17-under 196.

A six-time winner on the LPGA Tour, Kang was making her third tour start since June after undergoing treatment for a tumor on her spine.

Kang briefly took the lead, chipping in from near the green for an eagle at the final hole for a 64. Playing in the group behind her, Thitukul made a birdie at No. 17 to tie.

The two matched pars on No. 15, the first extra hole, and then Thitikul made a midrange birdie putt on No. 16 to win. 

Thitukul's first win this season, the JTBC Classic, also came in a playoff.

Scorching finish in France

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — Guido Migliozzi tied the course record with a 9-under 62 and rallied for a one-shot victory over Rasmus Hojgaard at the DP World Tour's Open de France.

It was the 25-year-old Italian's third victory on the European circuit, his first in three years, and one he'll remember a very long time.

When Migliozzi finished at 16-under 268, he was one shot ahead of Hojgaard, who had two holes left to play. The 21-year-old Dane's par on the 17th left him needing a birdie on the par-4 18th to force a playoff.

But Hojgaard, who had led since posting a 62 of his own in Thursday's opening round, drove into the rough. He landed his approach shot cleanly, but he needed a 48-foot putt for birdie and fell seven feet short to finish with a 3-under 68 and at 15 under overall. 

It was a bitter end to the tournament for Hojgaard, who had a six-shot lead after 36 holes.

Frenchman Paul Barjon (70), South African George Coetzee (71) and Belgian Thomas Pieters (70) failed to apply pressure on a wide-open last day and finished four shots behind Hojgaard in a tie for third at 11 under.

The tournament was not played the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Flesch triumphs at Pebble Beach

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Steve Flesch birdied the 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links to win the Pure Insurance Championship, his second PGA Tour Champions victory of the season.

Flesch birdied the first four holes and five on the front nine in a strong start, then stalled on the back. But he got the only birdie he needed on the par-5 finishing hole for a one-stroke victory over Ernie Els, Steven Alker and Paul Stankowski.

Flesch closed with a 4-under 68 for a three-round total of 11-under 205 and earned $330,000. The 55-year-old won the Mitsubishi Electric Classic in May.

Alker, the Charles Schwab Cup money leader, was looking to become the first four-time winner on the 50-and-older tour this year. Els had the best round of the day, an 8-under 64, but came up just short of his first victory of the season.

Updated with more information at 11:45 p.m. on Sept. 25, 2022.