First Published By Golfwire

First-of-its-kind team golf competition sanctioned by PGA TOUR Champions featured Team International, Team Europe and Team USA battling for international pride and global bragging rights

BRADENTON, FLORIDA  – David Toms won Presidents Cups for the United States in 2005, 2007 and 2011, and now, 12 years after his last team golf victory, he can stake a claim as a member of the winning team in the first World Champions Cup.

Toms made birdie on the eighth hole of the final singles group Sunday at The Concession Golf Club to put the Americans in the lead, then split the available points on the ninth and final hole as Team USA held on for a victory that couldn’t have been any closer. Team USA’s 221 points was just two points better than Team International’s tally over the three-day tournament. Team Europe was third with 208.

“You know, I really didn’t think we had a chance (coming down to the last few holes), because in the middle of the back nine, last time I saw a scoreboard, we were down like six points,” Toms said. “On No. 8 I had a putt to win the hole and one of the guys in the crowd said something to the effect that it was a big putt.

“Then I got to the (ninth) tee and I heard ‘USA! USA’ after Billy (Andrade) made his putt and I was like, man, we have to be in good shape. And then to have to play that hole, you’re the last guy playing that hole and it was tough. You’re just trying to finish. I hit a good tee shot; that was the big part of it, trying to get that in the fairway.

“Then to have a 4-iron, I made a comment to one of the guys outside, I said I’ve hit a lot of meaningful shots in my career just because I played golf for so long and that one right there was one of the most nervous types of situations I’ve ever had having to hit a shot not quite knowing what was going on, but after I hit it, I obviously knew what was going on. Man, I was just, I guess I was ready for the moment, I’m not really sure, but it felt good out there.”

The World Champions Cup is an annual three-team, three-day competition contested across nine-hole matches featuring team formats and singles play, with points being earned for each hole won in each of the event’s 24 matches. Each of the three teams competing in the World Champions Cup consisted of six players, including a Playing Captain. Inspired by the passion and tradition of the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, the World Champions Cup is officially sanctioned by PGA TOUR Champions.

Photo By: Stan Badz

Jerry Kelly led all 18 players in the competition with 61 total points. He scored double-digit points in five of the six sessions.

“These guys just fought, and I mean fought really hard,” Team USA Captain Jim Furyk said. “I’m just so happy for them. It was a pleasure to be their captain. It was a pleasure to work with them all week.

We’re good buddies every week of the year, but to get together as a team is really cool. Just so happy for everyone.”

Following Thursday’s opening day of play featuring morning six-ball and afternoon Scotch sixsomes (modified alternate shot), Team Europe held a slim lead, with 55.5 points to Team USA’s 55 and Team International’s 51.5. Friday brought the same format but slightly different results, as the International squad surged into the lead with 111.5 points, followed by Team USA with 111 and Team Europe with 101.5.

Team International continued to play well in Sunday morning’s singles round, though their 167 points heading into the tournament’s final nine holes hardly gave them a comfortable lead. Team USA was just a half point behind, and Team Europe was also within striking distance with 153.5.

Toms scored 11 of an available 27 points in his Sunday morning match, while Kelly totaled 12.5 and Steve Sticker had 10. In the afternoon groups, Toms and Kelly each totaled 10, while Vice Captain Billy Andrade, pressed into action when Furyk’s back issues kept him off the course, scored 11 in a matchup with Miguel Angel Jimenez and Hall of Famer Vijay Singh. Andrade had never played in a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup

“Just being with this team is amazing,” Andrade said. “You know, I just wanted to not be the anchor. I really wanted to contribute as much as I could. I’m just absolutely floored to be a part of this and have this experience, especially at my age.”

The International team got 12 points from Captain Ernie Els on Sunday morning, along with 10 each from Singh and Steven Alker. Stephen Ames scored 10.5 points Sunday afternoon, Alker had 10, and Els and K.J. Choi each totaled 9.5, but it wasn’t enough.

“The U.S. team played solid,” said Team International Captain Ernie Els. “Coming down the stretch, I played with Brett Quigley, he made a solid birdie on 17 and a solid par on 18. No. 18 was playing tough and the U.S. guys just kept grinding out the 18th. We just couldn’t make that one putt up the hill. I missed it, K.J. missed it, Vijay missed it. Unfortunately, Retief had such a tough lie.”

“What a week, what a format. This thing works.”

Team Europe fell behind Sunday morning and couldn’t keep the pace Sunday afternoon.

“Yeah, it was brilliant. The whole event was fabulous,” Team Europe Captain Darren Clarke said. “It was great. We just — unfortunately we found ourselves with a lot to do coming into today. We knew that anyway. The International guys and the American guys just played better than we have this week unfortunately. Made a few more putts than Team Europe did, but that’s what a team event — that’s what golf is sometimes, especially in the team events.”