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U.S. hangs on by a point to win Presidents Cup

INCHEON, South Korea — The final hour when both teams thought they had it won. The clutch putt that turned a rookie into the hero. The stubbed chip that made the local star cover his face with both hands.

The Presidents Cup was unlike any other over the past 10 years … except for the outcome.

The Americans won for the sixth straight time Sunday when Chris Kirk made a 15-foot birdie putt to win his match in a stunning turnaround on the final hole, and Bill Haas provided a storybook ending with the winning point for his team and for his father. "A moment I'll never forget," U.S. captain Jay Haas said, so choked up afterward that he could barely speak.

Haas used a captain's pick on his son, sent him off in the 12th and final singles match, then saw Bill Haas hit all the right shots to hold off Bae Sang-moon for a 2-up victory.

The 15½-14½ margin was the slimmest since a tie in 2003. Not since 2005 has the Cup been decided by the final match.

That's what the International team wanted when it demanded the number of matches be reduced (34 to 30). It almost got something even better — the shiny gold trophy that again stays with the Americans.

"Irrelevant of the outcome — we obviously would have loved to have won — we put on a show of golf this week," captain Nick Price said.

The final session was not without its share of heartbreak.

Anirban Lahiri, the first player from India to make the International team, battled Kirk shot for shot over the final four holes and looked like a winner when he played a pitch to perfection on the par-5 18th and had 4 feet for birdie. Kirk's chip ran 15 feet by. Based on the status of other matches still on the course, it seemed the International team would finally emerge a winner.

Kirk made his putt on the ball's final turn, but then Lahiri missed, his ball catching the right edge of the cup and spinning out as he dropped his putter over his back in disbelief.

"I have to give credit to Chris for making that putt," Lahiri said. "These things are scripted, I guess, and I wasn't in the script this time."

Neither was Bae, the only player under the Korean flag who was playing for the final time before he starts mandatory military service. When it became evident the Cup would be decided by his match with Haas, the American was 1-up and not giving away any shots. Bae holed a 10-foot putt on the 16th to halve the hole. He came within inches of holing a bunker shot on 17 to halve the hole, which assured the Americans would do no worse than tie.

Facing that tough chip below the 18th green, Bae hit it heavy and the gallery groaned as it rolled back to his feet. He crouched over and covered his face as his caddie placed a hand on Bae's shoulder to console him. Bae chipped about 12 feet by the hole, and when Haas blasted out of a bunker to 8 feet, Bae conceded the putt.

"I wanted to make the winning point for the team, but at the end of the day, our team lost," Bae said, "so I was very sad and disappointed about it."

Phil Mickelson had an unbeaten record (3-0-1) for the third time in the Cup. Zach Johnson also went unbeaten in easily beating Australian Jason Day, the No. 2 player in the world who failed to win a match during the week. South Africa's Branden Grace went 5-0 in the event, joining Shigeki Maruyama as the only International player to win all five matches.

LPGA: Jessica Korda won her fourth tour title, closing with 6-under 65 for 18-under 266 and a four-shot victory at the LPGA Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.

CHAMPIONS: Tom Lehman had an eagle and three birdies in the final four holes for 7-under 65 and a one-shot win at the SAS Championship in Cary, N.C. He finished at 12-under 204.

U.S. hangs on by a point to win Presidents Cup 10/11/15 [Last modified: Sunday, October 11, 2015 9:44pm]
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