Sunday, 27 November 2011

USA Win Word Cup as Ireland Fade

The United States ended their 11-year wait for a 24th Omega Mission Hills World Cup victory as Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland landed the title on Hainan Island.

The most successful nation in the history of the competition won their first World Cup since Tiger Woods and David Duval in 2000, as tournament debutants Kuchar and Woodland combined for a five under par 67 in the final round foursomes.

That left them 24 under par and gave them a two shot win over Germany and England – for whom Ian Poulter and Justin Rose mounted an incredible late charge with a 63, the best foursomes score of the week by three shots.

Overnight leaders Ireland had problems from the moment they three-putted the first hole for bogey – World Number Two Rory McIlroy missing from two feet.

America were having no such problems, Kuchar sinking a 15 footer at the first as they started with back-to-back birdies.

A two-putt birdie at the long sixth and another 15 footer from Kuchar at the next gave the USA an advantage and although they came under pressure from Ireland and Germany, they were not to be denied.

They dropped a shot at the par three 11th after Kuchar’s tee shot found sand, but responded with consecutive birdies – the impressive Woodland holing a 50 footer at the 13th – and parred their way in for victory.

Martin Kaymer and Alex Cejka looked the most likely challengers on the back nine after a Kaymer approach to five feet at the second and a chip-in birdie from Cejka at the ninth saw them turn only one behind.

But despite being bogey free for their final round, and Cejka sinking a 20 foot putt at the 12th, they struggled to make the required birdies over the closing stretch – eventually signing for a 69.

Ireland looked to be back on track after their poor start when McIlroy stuck his approach to two feet at the third and sunk a ten foot birdie putt two holes later.

But he and Graeme McDowell three-putted again at the sixth, and although McIlroy chipped in at the tenth, when the US Open Champion missed from inside three feet for a second time at the 12th their challenge effectively ended.

A level par 72 saw them finish level with Australia, the Netherlands and Scotland on 21 under par.

Rose and Poulter were the stars of the day – but an eight shot overnight deficit proved too much, the highlights of their round being Poulter’s 12 foot eagle putt on the 16th and Rose’s 20 foot birdie at the last.