Presidents Cup 2019: USA chasing eighth straight title, Internationals bidding to end drought

By Sports Desk December 14, 2019

There is plenty on the line as the United States and the International team go head-to-head on the final day of the Presidents Cup.

The USA are eyeing their eighth consecutive Presidents Cup title, but the defending champions must overturn a 10-8 deficit in Sunday's singles in Melbourne, where fans are queuing up in large numbers at Royal Melbourne Golf Club.

No team have trailed after three sessions and won the Presidents Cup, with Ernie Els' Internationals - leading since the opening day - looking to clinch their first crown since 1998 - a triumph also in Melbourne 21 years ago.

After the Internationals managed to preserve their lead in a dramatic finish to Saturday's foursomes, USA captain Tiger Woods has returned for the singles.

Woods sat out both sessions on Saturday - the four-ball and foursomes - but the 15-time major champion is back with club in hand against Abraham Ancer in the opening match.

It could be a historic day for Woods, who can set the record for most matches won at the Presidents Cup, having tied Phil Mickelson's tally of 26 on Friday.

Meanwhile, controversial American Patrick Reed is without caddie Kessler Karain for the third match against C.T. Pan following a fan altercation on Saturday.

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  • Tiger Woods in hospital:  PGA TOUR commissioner says the world will rally around golf legend Tiger Woods in hospital: PGA TOUR commissioner says the world will rally around golf legend

    PGA TOUR commissioner Jay Monahan says the world will rally around Tiger Woods after the legendary golfer suffered significant leg injuries in a car accident on Tuesday.

    Woods underwent extensive surgery in Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles County following a horrific single-vehicle crash.

    Firefighters had to use mechanical cutters to get Woods out of the vehicle he had been travelling in after it careered up an embankment before overturning on the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes, near Los Angeles.

    The 15-time major champion suffered compound fractures to his lower extremities, but was "awake, responsive and recovering" in his hospital room following his operation.

    Monahan said at the World Golf Championships-Workday Championship on Wednesday: "As we wake up today, we are so thankful and so grateful to have read that statement last night and to know that he is going to be okay.

    "All that really matters right now is his wellbeing, his recovery, his family.

    "He knows he's got the support of everybody out here. The golf world will rally around him, the sporting world has rallied around him, the world will rally around him."

    Monahan has been in contact with Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, but said talk of how the 45-year-old's injuries will impact his career have not been discussed so soon after the accident.

    "Listen, when Tiger wants to talk about golf, we'll talk about golf, but I think right now the entirety of our efforts needs to be around the support," he added.

    "When you're going to overcome what he needs to overcome, I think the love of all of our players and everybody out here, it's going to come forward in a big way and across the entire sporting world.

    "I think he'll feel that energy and I think that's what we should all focus on."

    Woods had been recovering after undergoing back surgery for a fifth time.

  • Tiger Woods in hospital: The 2019 Masters comeback win that underlined his brilliance Tiger Woods in hospital: The 2019 Masters comeback win that underlined his brilliance

    Tiger Woods is no stranger to comebacks.

    Between 2014 and 2017, when an injury-plagued Woods was barely able to compete at the highest level, let alone seriously contend for honours, there were plenty of compelling storylines in golf's major championships.

    Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth each won two in succession to suggest a glorious new rivalry was in prospect, while the latter sensationally threw away the Masters in 2016 before producing a remarkable recovery to win the following year's Open. In addition, there were two truly memorable final-day duels, Henrik Stenson edging out Phil Mickelson to win the 2016 Open Championship and Sergio Garcia pipping Justin Rose at Augusta nine months later.

    By the time Garcia finally earned major glory at the 74th attempt, it was becoming easy to view Woods' career as a top-level player in the past tense. 

    Little more than a month later, the former world number one was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Florida, following an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine, and a humiliating mugshot of Woods made headlines around the world.

    In light of that embarrassing episode and Woods' continued back problems, it was truly incredible to see a resurgent Tiger threaten to win two majors in 2018 before he then ended a five-year victory drought at the Tour Championship.

    Yet it turned out the best was still to come. And there can be no doubt that the events of April 14, 2019 at Augusta comfortably trump all of the aforementioned major narratives. If golf was good in Woods' absence, it got a whole lot better when he returned, and the world will hope he has another comeback in him after Tuesday's car accident in Los Angeles.

    In winning the Masters for a fifth time, Woods not only added the most remarkable chapter to his stunning career, but he once again proved he is the one athlete who moves the needle like no other.

    While the likes of Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Tom Brady, and LeBron James are all rightly recognised as masters of their respective crafts, none of those superstars can match Woods when it comes to the impact they have on their sport.

    When Woods is successful, interest in golf is taken to a whole new level, for one simple reason.

    As Williams herself tweeted at the time of his Masters triumph, to watch his success was to witness "greatness like no other".

    It is essentially impossible to quantify whether Messi is better than Federer, or whether Serena is superior to James, given they are competing in different fields.

    Yet it is hard to envisage any active sportsperson commanding more attention than a successful Woods. More than a decade after his period of outrageous dominance in golf ended, he once again reprised his role as sport's most captivating figure, one who somehow regained a majestic aura after it appeared he was a busted flush.

    When he secured victory at the 2019 Masters, it felt like the whole world was watching, and doubtless they are watching now – hoping for another miracle comeback.

  • Tiger Woods in hospital: Golf great 'awake, responsive and recovering' after long surgical procedure Tiger Woods in hospital: Golf great 'awake, responsive and recovering' after long surgical procedure

    Tiger Woods is "awake, responsive and recovering" following a long surgical procedure on his lower right leg and ankle after Tuesday's near-fatal car crash.

    Woods was "very fortunate" to survive a single-car accident in California that left the 15-time major champion with serious leg injuries and question marks hanging over his career.

    The 45-year-old American superstar underwent emergency surgery at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center – where a rod was inserted into his tibia, while screws and pins were used to stabilise his foot and ankle – after an early morning crash that saw his car roll "several hundred feet", according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

    Woods, who had to be pulled from his vehicle with specialist equipment and an axe, was already recovering from back surgery ahead of April's Masters at Augusta.

    "We thank everyone for the overwhelming support and messages during this tough time," a statement read via Woods' official Twitter account.

    "As previously communicated, Tiger was involved in a single-car accident earlier this morning in California. He has undergone a long surgical procedure on his lower right leg and ankle after being brought into hospital.

    "He is currently awake, responsive and recovering in his hospital room. Thank you to the wonderful doctors and hospital staff at Habor-UCLA Medical Center, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and the Fire Department. Your support and assistance have been outstanding.

    "There are no further updates at this time and we continue to thank you for your well-wishes and privacy for him and his family."

    Chief medical officer and interim CEO at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center Anish Mahajan added: "Mr. Woods suffered significant orthopaedic injuries to his right lower extremity that were treated during emergency surgery by Orthopaedic trauma specialists at Harbour-UCLA Medical Center, a level one trauma center.

    "Comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula bones were stabilised by inserting a rod into the tibia. Additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle were stabilised with a combination of screws and pins.

    "Trauma to the muscle and soft-tissue of the leg required surgical release of the covering of the muscles to relieve pressure due to the swelling."

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