By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Tee to green? Tiger Woods had been really good all week at Royal Melbourne.
With a putter? Not so much. He couldn't buy a putt. Too many lipouts, not enough center cuts.
Woods finally put together a complete performance in Sunday's singles at The President Cup, and it paid off in a 4 and 3 win over Aaron Baddeley in a match that clinched the Cup for the United States. It's the second consecutive Presidents Cup in which Woods provided the clincher.
Woods produced five birdies (and was conceded another one) against one bogey in a performance that was as dominant as any on the final day of competition. It was the payoff to a solid week of golf that had been frustrating for Woods because he couldn't get any putts to drop. He entered Sunday with a 1-3-0 record, including a shocking 7 and 6 loss with Steve Stricker to K.J. Choi and Adam Scott in Thursday's foursomes.
"Today," he said, "was a different deal."
Indeed. According to the match details, he rolled in a 10-footer at the fourth hole, a 17-footer at the fifth, a 21-footer at the sixth, a 10-footer at the eighth and a 17-footer at the 10th while also keeping his scorecard clean during that span by draining those testy 3-6 footers that had been troublesome at times this year.
Not until the 14th did he suffer his first bogey, and by then he had the match firmly in hand.
"He didn't miss a putt inside 20 feet," Baddeley said. "That was the difference."
Woods saw his four days at Royal Melbourne as a continuation of his play at last week's Australian Open, when he produced three solid rounds.
"I felt like I could easily have won that event if I had just putted halfway decent on Saturday," Woods said. "I was hitting the ball well enough. Unfortunately just had one bad day of putting which cost me an event.
Woods added: "This week, I played even better, and a lot of putts, they just didn't go in (until Sunday)."
Teammate Steve Stricker gave Tiger "a little lesson" on the putting green, though, and that made a difference on Sunday. Woods said his body position felt more natural, he started seeing his line and could feel the release.
"Whatever he says about putting," Tiger said of Stricker, "I'm going to do."
Woods entered this week intent on proving Fred Couples' faith in him as not only a Captain's Pick, but a pick that was made six weeks before it had to be announced. Some questioned the timing of Couples' decision; others wondered if Woods should be on the team at all as he worked through his swing changes with Sean Foley. Even International Captain Greg Norman said he would've selected PGA champ Keegan Bradley over Woods,
In the end, of course, Woods proved his doubters wrong. Something he has a habit of doing.
"I'm very pleased with the progress I've made with Sean," Woods said, "and it's finally paying off under pressure."
On Sunday, that was good news for the U.S. Team.
And perhaps bad news for the rest of his PGA TOUR competitors in 2012.