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Kuchar & Woodland Thrilled with World Cup Win
Matt Kuchar and partner Gary Woodland overcame an elite field of two-man teams from around the world to win the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China. The now biennial, $7.5 million event concluded Sunday on the Blackstone Course at Mission Hills on Hainan Island.
In the much tougher foursomes (alternate-shot) format Sunday, the Americans fired a sterling 5-under 67 to finish at 24-under 264, two shots ahead of England (Ian Poulter and Justin Rose) and Germany (Martin Kaymer and Alex Cejka).
Ireland, which consisted of the past two U.S. Open winners, Graeme McDowell (2010) and Rory McIlroy (this year at Congressional), had a two-stroke lead going into the final round but shot even-par 72 to tie for fourth at 267 with Australia (Richard Green and Brendon Jones), the Netherlands (Robert-Jan Derksen and Joost Luiten) and Scotland (Stephen Gallacher and Martin Laird).
South Africa was only two strokes behind Ireland and also in the hunt entering Sunday. But 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen could only muster a 74 in the final round.
As noted by their post-round interview below, the Americans - which split the $2.5 million first-place prize - were exuberant about bringing back to the USA the nation's 24th World Cup title. The victory was the first for the Americans since Tiger Woods and David Duval 11 years ago.
Here's what Kuchar and Woodland had to tell reporters.
MATT KUCHAR: I'm jacked up! This is exciting, World Cup champions, American style!
MODERATOR: We have our excited, well dressed team from the United States Team here, World Cup champs, first time for the United States since 2000. Just some comments from both of you on what it's like to be the winners here this week
GARY WOODLAND: Feels great. It was a very nice week, we were treated very nicely here, and fortunately we played well. We came here and hoping to have some fun, but we set a goal out to win and that's what we came here to do. We played phenomenal. Especially today. It's a tough format, and both of us picked each other up when the other one got in trouble and to go out and shoot, I don't know what we shot today, but to hold on on the back nine, we got off to a hot start early, played solid on the back, and really we were not in trouble in the back at all. It was a good day.
MATT KUCHAR: When I got selected to represent the United States in the World Cup, I also got to choose my partner, and I knew it was going to be a great honour to come here to play for the United States, and I thought that if I picked the right partner, I'd have a real shot at winning the title. And I chose Gary Woodland, thinking that he would team up well with me, we would have the best shot of winning this title, and he played fantastic this week. I have no doubt that he was the best player in the field, and for me, it was a lot of riding his coattails, trying to keep encouraging him to keep it going, because he played some great golf. And I'm fortunate and really, really excited that I picked him.
Q. The last time the U.S. Team won was back in 2000 when Tiger and his partner, I believe David Duval won. Is this the lucky place for both of you, first time you come to Haikou and then you win the World Cup representing the USA.
GARY WOODLAND: Is it lucky? I hope so, and hopefully it's lucky when we come back in a couple years. We had a great time. You know, it was an honor to represent our country, and it's just a bonus to come out and play well and come out on top.
Q. Are you looking forward to coming back in maybe two years from now to defend your title, or maybe before that come over to behind an and enjoy a holiday other than playing golf?
MATT KUCHAR: We have been treated so well here. This has just been a fantastic week. We have been made to feel like we are at home. It's been a long way from home and a different culture than what we have at home but we have certainly been made to feel very welcome here. We've had a great experience and I hope that Gary and I can start a tradition here, that Fred Couples and Davis Love started years ago and won I think five years in a row. So I hope to be back, and I hope Gary and I can come back and defend the title in a couple years.
Q. Matt, I can tell you are not very excited, you mentioned Freddie and Davis, but there are some other great Americans that have won; what does it mean to join the likes of Arnold, Jack, Ben Hogan and those sort of guys?
MATT KUCHAR: I was telling Gary earlier, I have an old teammate of mine from Georgia Tech that remained an amateur and plays golf just for the love of the game. And he equates it to, he plays for trophies and to put his name up in clubhouses. And he's done so at great places. He's won the Crump Cup at Pine Valley; he won the Northeast Amateur, and he brags about putting his name up in great clubhouses. For Gary and I to put our name on this trophy, on the World Cup trophy, alongside of Arnold Palmer Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player and Tiger Woods and David Duval and Davis and Freddie and the list goes on and on, it's a real honour; as well as, to be able to walk through these halls and to see our pictures and our faces, this is just a fantastic resort. I think, what a cool place, to be remembered here as World Cup Champions. It's a real honor.
GARY WOODLAND: I think Matt hit the nail on the head. This is something that can never be taken away from us and it's an honor to be on that trophy with the other great Americans. I think the key for that is most of those great players won this multiple times and hopefully Matt and I can put our name on that trophy not once, but more than that.
Q. Congratulations on a great win and making it a great last day. There's a few people who feel that the World Cup needs to raise its profile and prestige. What do you think can be done to kind of raise to put the World Cup back up there among the great tournaments? And indeed the Omega sponsor today said that the Cup should become a proper World event and tour around the world. Is that something that you would agree with?
MATT KUCHAR: It's hard to say. I don't know as well from a tournament director's perspective what would help make this a great event. I think the field we had this year, has got to be one of the stronger fields in golf in this tournament's history for quite some time. I think maybe the change to the biannual format has made it more exciting. I know sometimes destinations are a difficult thing. Coming to China is a big trip, and that played a part in I think some people's decisions. But I think this place showed off really well. It's a fantastic resort. It's my first time here and I think it's going to be very well received. But I think this is a great start being here with the quality of field that was here. And I think that the biannual move will be a good move to create I think a little more want for it that that extra year off will give. I think it gives people that want to get back here.
Q. It is always great to win a trophy at the end of the year, and after a successful season this year, what will you expect and how will you prepare for the next PGA Tour season?
MATT KUCHAR: That's fantastic English. Thank you very much. Well done. Any time you win, it's such a big confidence builder. I mean, I could not be more excited. I'm just so jazzed up right now to have won this event, that it bleeds into the upcoming events. I know after a win, you always seem to play better. Gary and I are both going next week to Chevron. I expect he's going to be the man to beat there. So I'm excited about that. We have a little bit of time off then before the 2012 season, but I think a win like this only helps for next week, as well as next year.
GARY WOODLAND: I agree with that totally. It's definitely just confidence. Any time you can go out and win under the gun you prove your game is moving in the right direction. Knowledge Matt and I are anywhere near where we want to be in our career, but we are definitely moving in the right direction and this is definitely a great step in the right direction.
MODERATOR: Just talk about some key shots in the round, Gary, maybe your bunker shot on 12, and Matt, if you had any key moments in the round today.
GARY WOODLAND: The biggest shot for us this week for us was yesterday on 18. We played great all day, we are 9 under, I was in my pocket; I hit in the water and Matt tucked his second shot way left and short sided, everything against him and he hits it in to a foot and taps in for par. That really saved the round yesterday and gave us momentum going into today. We came out, birdies the first two holes and it really got us going early in the round. The bunker shot I hit on 12, I think it was, was big, because you just can't let these par 5s get way from you. To come out, I think we birdied all four par 5s today, it's what you've got to do out here.
Q. What went through your mind when you heard the National Anthem played during the closing ceremony?
MATT KUCHAR: The whole process of walking down on to the green was the Olympian music that was being played, and that walk was truly special. That's something I think all of us as sports men, anybody that plays sport, would love to be part of the Olympics. And that was a really special feeling. Then to be a victorious team that has their National Anthem played, it felt like it was something similar to an Olympics. I know that's a dream I think of all kids to be champions for the nation and an Olympic sport. That's as close as I felt and I think anybody in golf has been able to feel up until this point.
Q. The foursomes today you two worked out really well. Was there something that you guys talked through throughout the round or prior to the round, and how are you going to celebrate tonight?
MATT KUCHAR: I got a text message earlier this morning from Phil Mickelson saying, "Go make some birdies early, you guys can win this thing, and bring another one home for the United States." After playing a few rounds of golf with Phil and in final rounds, it is amazing how aggressive he plays. It's fun to watch. He goes out the point is to win a golf tournament. The point is not to play safe and salvage a Top 5. The point is to go win the tournament. With my little experience in these team events and in the alternate shot format, you have so much pressure on yourself that sometimes it's hard to be aggressive. And that was my advice to Gary when we started the alternate shot on Friday and then again today; to stay aggressive. We had a bunch of great players in this field that I knew it was going to take birdies, and we got off to a great start, made a couple birdies early, and it feels awfully good to be sitting here right now.
Q. How are you going to celebrate tonight?
GARY WOODLAND: I'm going to celebrate on an airplane, I have a flight here in a little bit headed back home.
MATT KUCHAR: And lucky me, my flight's not till tomorrow night, so I am going to celebrate tonight and tomorrow, and if you want to find me, I'll be in the spa I think all day tomorrow. Please don't come looking for me. I'm going to enjoy the wonderful spa facility here at Mission Hills.
Q. Dinner tonight on you?
MATT KUCHAR: Dinner tonight on me if you can find me. (Laughter).
Q. There are over 20,000 golf courses in the States, but in China, we only have about 600 so far, and it's a very common sport in the U.S. compared to China. What would be the best way to maybe promote and make it more of a common sport in China regarding the sport of golf?
MATT KUCHAR: I think China's on the right path. I think what Ken and Tenniel Chu, I think set up by their father in organizing the Mission Hills Resort is fantastic. I think that they are on the right path for growing the game of golf. I think you guys are going to see a pretty big explosion in the game of golf. I think Mission Hills is probably going to be the bedrock for it, and golf is going to grow pretty quickly here. It seems to be a sport that the people are passionate about. I think events like this are going to help. This World Cup is a great event, it had great names: myself and Gary, to have the Irish team of Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy; Martin Kaymer, just a fantastic field, I think is really going to help grow the game here.
MODERATOR: And you spoke of Mr.Tenniel Chu, and he gave you guys a nice Thanksgiving dinner and offered some karaoke. Do you want to sing the National Anthem to get us out of here or your college fight song as we finish up?
MATT KUCHAR: That was a special night for a special guy. Thank you, Tenniel, that was a great Thanksgiving. You made us feel very much at home. Thank you very much.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.