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U.S. insists it cares about the 'other' Cup

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 19, 2000


GAINESVILLE, Va. -- Much of the pre-event sentiment was about the Americans' lack thereof for the Presidents Cup.

Playing the Presidents in even years and the Ryder in odd has caused a few U.S. players to suggest these Cups have spilleth over.

But Wednesday, the eve of the fourth Presidents Cup, there was no hint of regret among the American players about being at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club to face the International team.

They seemed to be feeling the opposite.

"I'm looking forward to a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup where someone writes a story about how great a team we are," an agitated Jim Furyk said. "And how we pull together and how excited we are to go out there and try to beat the other team's rear end. I'm tired of hearing about how, as Americans, we don't pull together and we're not a team and we don't care. I'm pretty fed up with it."

Hal Sutton, one of the heroes of the U.S. team's comeback victory in last year's Ryder Cup, was not as testy as Furyk but was just as emphatic about the Americans' resolve.

Sutton said the 201/2-111/2 whipping administered by the International team in 1998 in Melbourne, Australia, definitely is in the back of the Americans' minds.

Just how inspired the U.S. players are should become evident today, when five foursomes (alternate-shot) matches will be contested. The marquee match pits world No. 1 Tiger Woods and former Stanford teammate Notah Begay against world No. 2 Ernie Els and Masters champion Vijay Singh.

In '98, the Internationals led 31/2-11/2 after the opening foursomes. By Sunday's 12 singles matches, the Internationals had an almost insurmountable 141/2-51/2 cushion.

"We were trying to ease into it," said Davis Love III, recalling that the '98 match was played in December, after most of the U.S. players had begun their off-season. "All of a sudden we were eased right out of it by the first lunch break."

A slow start, Woods said, would be more surprising this year because of the timing. Although Woods hasn't played competitively in five weeks, he tends to shake off rust quickly. Seven of his nine victories this season, including two of his three majors titles, have come after at least one week's break.

"This year it hopefully will be different," Woods said of the U.S. team's outlook. "We're right at the peak of our season. We're all playing well right now."

DRIVER CONTROVERSY: With Arnold Palmer standing by as its pitchman, Callaway Golf came out swinging from both sides on the controversy over thin-faced drivers.

At a news conference in Carlsbad, Calif., Ely Callaway said his company soon will begin domestic sales of a version of its driver that the U.S. Golf Association ruled off-limits because it launched balls with too much of a springlike effect.

The ERC II forged titanium driver is scheduled to be in shops no later than January. Its predecessor, the ERC -- which was banned by the USGA and is illegal for PGA Tour events in North America -- has never been sold in the United States.

Callaway also offered what he called a "truce" to the USGA by announcing a driver that conforms to USGA regulations, the Hawk Eye VFT titanium driver. It also will go on sale by January.

The suggested price for the ERC II will be $625. The Hawk Eye VFT will list at $500.

Supporting both decisions was Palmer, a longtime USGA supporter who recently signed a 12-year endorsement contract with Callaway. Palmer came out on stage holding both clubs.

"(Callaway is) offering a piece of equipment that will help improve people's golf," Palmer said. "That's really the bottom line of what we're talking about. He wants to be able to help make the game a little better for the masses of golfers in the world. I think he's making it a little more fun."

USGA spokesman Marty Parkes said Palmer's comments "certainly raise our eyebrows. They seem very incompatible with what he's said in the past."

Thin-faced drivers are said to cause the ball to go as much as 30 yards longer.

Palmer has been using the Hawk Eye VFT but said he was "almost scared to try the ERC," which some players used in the British Open.

OBITUARY: Hall of Famer Harry "Lighthorse" Cooper, who won the first Vardon Trophy for the lowest average score and had 32 victories on the PGA Tour, died at 96.

Cooper, who turned pro in 1923 and was the longest-serving member of the PGA of America, died Tuesday at a hospital in White Plains, N.Y. He was elected to the PGA Hall of Fame in 1959.

PGA Tour

WHAT: Presidents Cup.

WHEN: Today-Sunday.

WHERE: Prince William County, Va.

COURSE: Robert Trent Jones Golf Club (7,315 yards, par 72).

TV: Noon-5 p.m. today, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, TNT; noon-6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Ch. 8. FORMAT: Today, five foursome matches; Friday, five four-ball matches and five foursome matches; Saturday, five four-ball matches; Sunday, 12 singles matches.

SERIES: The United States leads 2-1.

NOTES: The International team beat the United States 201/2-111/2 two years ago in Melbourne, Australia. ... In 1994, Robert Trent Jones Golf Club was the site of the inaugural match.

LPGA Tour

WHAT: AFLAC Champions.

WHEN: Today-Sunday.

WHERE: Mobile, Ala.

COURSE: Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail (6,231 yards, par 72).

PURSE: $750,000.

WINNER'S SHARE: $122,000.

TV: Midnight today-12:30 a.m. Friday (highlights), midnight Friday-12:30 a.m. Saturday (highlights), 2-4 p.m. Saturday, 4-6 p.m. Sunday, Lifetime. NOTES: Akiko Fukushima won last year. ... Juli Inkster won the World Championship of Women's Golf in Vallejo, Calif., on Sunday.

Senior PGA Tour

WHAT: Kaanapali Classic.

WHEN: Friday-Sunday.

WHERE: Lahaina, Hawaii.

COURSE: Kaanapali Golf Club (6,590 yards, par 71).

PURSE: $1.1-million.

WINNER'S SHARE: $165,000.

TV: 3-5 p.m. Friday, 5-7 p.m. Saturday, 5:30-7 p.m. Sunday, ESPN. NOTES: Bruce Fleisher won last year. ... Jim Thorpe won the Gold Rush Classic in El Dorado Hills, Calif., on Sunday.

European PGA Tour

WHAT: Madrid Masters.

WHEN: Today-Sunday.

WHERE: Madrid, Spain.

COURSE: Club de Campo (6,957 yards, par 71).

PURSE: $1.3-million.

WINNER'S SHARE: $175,000.

TV: 9 a.m.-noon today-Sunday, Golf Channel. NOTES: Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez won last year. ... Spain defeated South Africa 2-1 at the Alfred Dunhill Cup in St. Andrews Fife, Scotland, on Sunday.

Other tournaments

BUY.COM TOUR: Tour Championship, Oct. 26-29, Dothan, Ala.

JAPAN GTO: Bridgestone Open, today-Sunday, Chiba.

JAPAN LADIES TOUR: Hisako Higuchi Kibun Classic, Friday-Sunday, Nagasaki.

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