Captain Tiger Woods and his two most beleaguered players set the tone for an historic comeback to win the 13th Presidents Cup on Sunday.
With his team trailing 10-8 entering Sunday's singles play at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Woods needed his United States team to win at least eight of the 12 matches to win the Cup for the eight consecutive time.
They did better than that, winning six of the first nine matches on the course and halving two others before Matt Kuchar sank the Cup-clinching putt. That came on the 17th hole of his match against South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen -- fittingly in a match Kuchar trailed by three strokes making the turn.
Despite owning a 10-1-1 advantage all-time in the event entering this week, the U.S. had not won a singles session since 2009. They needed 7 1/2 singles points to win the Cup on Sunday, a feat they had accomplished only four times previously.
Woods, who selected himself as a playing captain, acknowledged later that he sent himself out first to send a message. Playing against International rookie Abraham Ancer, Woods went out with a 3-up win to set the tone for the day.
In the process, Woods went 3-0 for the week and earned his 27th career Presidents Cup win, breaking a tie with Phil Mickelson for the most all-time.
He immediately put his captain's hat back on, watching Dustin Johnson polish off China's Haotong Li 4&3 to tie the Cup for the first time since the opening day at 10-10.
With the momentum squarely on the U.S.' side, it was the embattled Patrick Reed who put his team in the lead with a decisive 4&2 win over Taiwan's C.T. Pan. Coming off a controversial week at the Hero World Challenge where he received a two-stroke penalty for a rules violation, Reed had swing coach Kevin Kirk on his bag after caddie Kessler Karain was involved in an altercation with a fan on Saturday.
Winless in three matches for the week while paired with Webb Simpson, and winless in his previous four Presidents Cup matches overall, Reed built a 6-up lead on the front nine and withstood Pan's comeback attempt.
The International Team finally stemmed the bleeding a bit when Japan's Hideki Matsuyama halved with Tony Finau, but it came in a match that Matsuyama led 4-up at the turn. That proved to be another theme of the day, as Finau received an embrace on the green from Woods for his comeback.
South Korea's Sungjae Im gave the International Team its first full point of the day with a 4&3 win over U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland to even the Cup at 11 1/2 points apiece. But Canada's Adam Hadwin badly missed a birdie putt on 18 to halve his important match with Bryson DeChambeau.
Patrick Cantlay then beat Chile's Joaquin Niemann and Xander Schauffele beat Australian hero Adam Scott to push it to a 14-12 U.S. advantage.
"It's stressful, man," Schauffele told the Golf Channel. "Panic, at certain points. It wasn't the picturesque finish that I wanted ... it was kind of a stressful finish for a rook here, but just glad I could two-putt a 10-footer (for the win)."
That set the stage for Simpson, who was put in the unenviable position of being in a losing pairing with Reed for the previous three days. Simpson never trailed in his match against South Korea's Byeong Hun An, securing no worse than a tie in the event with his 2&1 win.
"It's amazing," Simpson told the Golf Channel of his range of emotions during the day. "You don't go through these emotions during any other event. This and the Ryder Cup for us ... it's the biggest emotion swings I've ever faced. It's a good feeling."
"Being with these guys this week ... I was 0-3, but I'd already built so many good memories that it was still a good memory for me. But I did want to come out and finish strong today."
Justin Thomas, who had a 3-up lead in his match against Australia's Cameron Smith, faltered on the back nine for the second consecutive day. His 2&1 loss left the Internationals with a chance to tie with two matches left on the course.
Kuchar, who was down three holes at the turn, drained a birdie putt on the 17th hole to claim his first lead of the day. Most important, it clinched the U.S. victory.
"We did it together," said Woods, holding back tears. "We came here as a team ... my teammates and my boys all played well. And my captains did an amazing job of just being there for every little detail. I couldn't have done it without all of their help. And my boys ... they did it!"
The U.S. didn't lead after a single session until Sunday, and became the first Presidents Cup side to come from behind after trailing entering the singles matches.
"It's been one of the more amazing challenges," Woods said. "They believed in one another. We relied on one another as a team, and we did it together. This Cup wasn't going to be given to us, we had to earn it. And we did."
Arguably, no one embodied that more than Reed, who was embroiled in controversy from the time he arrived in Australia. He didn't help himself by engaging with the prodding gallery, and then had to deal with a sudden caddie change entering the final day of the competition.
Once dubbed "Captain America" for leading the U.S. to a Ryder Cup victory in 2016, Reed entered Sunday as a lightning rod for controversy and with a very poor recent showing in team events.
"The biggest thing is it was just a team effort," he said moments after sealing his match. "You know, with family back home, then also with Captain and teammates. They said, 'Hey man, the only thing we can do is go out there and play the best golf you can. Play your match and try to win a point.'
"At this point, (nothing) was bigger than just going out and playing golf. Go out, get a points for our team, and hopefully go out and get the momentum going since I was going out early."
Reed also received an embrace from Woods after winning his match, which he never tailed in after birdieing the opening four holes.
"You make birdies, you don't hear much," Reed said of what he heard from the crowd Sunday. "The biggest thing today, which I felt like I didn't do early on this week, was we didn't get up in our matches, we didn't get up on top. When you're not up on your matches, the other team has the crowd, and it's going to get more vocal. But if you come out stormin' and you start making birdies, you get up on that match, the crowd is pretty quiet.
"I was able to do that today, and kind of get going. I was able to kind of silence the crowd a little bit."