Player Makes Politically Correct Choice

By Ian HutchinsonAugust 13, 2007, 4:00 pm
In golf terms, PC is an abbreviation used for the Presidents Cup and, in making one of his captain's picks for his International team, Gary Player definitely went PC, as in politically correct, but does that doesn't necessarily make it the correct choice.
Player answered the question that had been on Canadians lips since it was first announced that the Presidents Cup will be played late next month at Royal Montreal. Mike Weir seemed to be a lock back then, but he wobbled into the PGA Championship and missed the cut just before Player made his picks.
Player, who spoke often about picking players with hot hands, still went with the 2003 Masters champion, who also withdrew from the Bridgestone Invitational with a neck injury after tying for 34th at his national Open three weeks ago.
Those less than impressive results contradict Player's hot hand theory, but there was more at stake with the selection of Weir than just natural talent and strong play of late.
'Mike, as we know, won the Masters and has been a very good player through the years -- a very, very good match player even though he didn't finish in the top 10,' said Player.
'Mike is a terrific competitor. He's a real fighter and I've got tremendous confidence in him. You couldn't ask to have a better team player than Mike. If you don't put him in, he doesn't sulk. If you put him in, he says he's always willing to play anybody,' added the Black Knight.
It's impossible to argue with Player on any of those points, but considering the flat tires suffered by Weir lately, it appears his heritage as much as anything had a role in him being picked.
'If we didn't have a Canadian on my team, I can assure you, in my opinion, the series would be quite flat amongst the Canadian people,' said Player.
While Canadians wouldn't have like any decision to not include Weir, it's unlikely Presidents Cup attendance would have suffered because of it. What Player needed to consider was how his Internationals might have lost home field advantage without a Canadian on the team.
'Mike is a hero in his country, deservedly so, and I'm sure the Canadian people are going to be relieved because I continuously had questions every week, 'Are you putting Mike in?' and I said we have to wait to the end.'
It now appears that the decision to include Weir was made well before his unveiling as an International team member. Weir is the golden golfer of Canada despite his recent struggles, but how will the world react should he falter in Montreal?
A legitimate case could be made that Weir wasn't even the best Canadian when Player made his picks as Calgary's Stephen Ames was ahead of Weir in Presidents Cup standings, world rankings and on the PGA Tour money list, but couldn't win the popularity contest.
While much has been made about Ames wilting in the presence of Tiger Woods in the final round of the PGA Championship, he did put himself in that position in the first place, but it appears his only chance to make the International team was by getting an automatic selection.
'He played so well at the PGA,' said Player. 'The way we worked it out, he had to finish in the top four, which I actually thought he would do the way he was playing. If he finished fourth solo, he would have got into the top 10. Unfortunately, he didn't have a very good last round.
'Everybody was on my mind,' added Player. 'It's a very difficult thing to select a team. You've got a lot of people when they hear the selections will say, 'Well, I thought I deserved to play.''
Player could hear more of that should Weir stumble in his home and native land, but that is far from predetermined despite his recent play. His recent swing changes could click in and he does have an impressive 8-6 overall record and the experience of three Presidents Cups behind him.
'It was tough the last couple of weeks,' said Weir. 'I ran into a little bit of bad luck with pulling a neck muscle at Firestone -- bad timing. I didn't want to be hampered by that the last couple of weeks, but that was the way it was. I knew I had been playing well the last couple of weeks leading into that.
'I've always thought highly of the Presidents Cup and I've enjoyed playing the last three and I thought it was such a great competition. Being in Canada, I wanted to play. I felt like, sometimes, I was maybe trying too hard.
'Now that Gary's made me a selection, maybe I can relax a bit more and play some real good golf leading into the Presidents Cup.'
That would make Player's choice very PC, as in popular in Canada.
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    Toronto Sun Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun and senior writer for Pro Shop Magazine, a Canadian golf trade publication, and Canadian Golfer Magazine. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
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