Last Chance for Overlooked Presidents Cup

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PGA ChampionshipTULSA, Okla. -- Tiger Woods did one commercial in which he talked to a portrait of Bobby Jones looking for an omen. He didn't have to speak at all in another commercial, only whistle 'Eye of the Tiger' while lacing up his golf shoes.
 
The PGA TOUR has persuaded just about everyone to talk about the cup this year.
 
But only one cup runneth over.
 
'It's all about the FedExCup this year,' Woods said in a tone of voice that did not suggest overwhelming support.
 
Woods is not a huge fan of any cup except one where he might hide petty cash. But even he found it peculiar that the Presidents Cup has been all but ignored this year. The PGA TOUR is pouring every ounce of its promotional support -- and that's a lot coming from the folks in Ponte Vedra Beach -- into a cup that players have not fully embraced, if they even understand it.
 
The TOUR can tell you mathematical odds of the players who stand the best chance of winning the $10 million prize.
 
But there has barely been a peep about Hunter Mahan or Lucas Glover trying to make the Presidents Cup team for the first time, or about Steve Stricker getting back for the first time in 11 years, or even the possibility that Mike Weir might miss out on what figures to be the biggest golf event in Canada's history.
 
'I guess there's only room for one cup a year,' Scott Verplank deadpanned Tuesday.
 
What a waste of momentum.
 
The Presidents Cup will never measure up to the Ryder Cup, but it was coming into its own after two spectacular events.
 
There was that infamous tie in South Africa in 2003, when Woods and Ernie Els faced a sudden-death playoff with the Presidents Cup riding on the outcome. Both said it was the most pressure they ever felt on a golf course, and everyone was relieved when it was called a draw because of darkness.
 
The score was settled two years later, and it was equally riveting. It came down to the final hole of the final match, when Chris DiMarco hit an amazing shot from the bunker to 15 feet and made the putt, then ran into the arms of captain Jack Nicklaus.
 
Both scenes would make for a great commercial, certainly better than Woods whistling 'Eye of the Tiger,' Trevor Immelman in a restroom using his hairbrush as a microphone or Zach Johnson and Dean Wilson reciting poetry.
 
Then again, the PGA TOUR doesn't have a financial obligation to the Presidents Cup the way it does to a shipping company in Memphis, Tenn., that shelled out $40 million for a competition that might lose interest after a few years, if not sooner.
 
What a shame.
 
NBC is televising the Presidents Cup, which will be played Sept. 27-30 at Royal Montreal, the oldest golf club in North America. The tour could have done the network a small favor by at least mentioning that the matches will be held this year, but it was too busy force-feeding the FedExCup on its other television partners.
 
NBC still has time to do that on its own, particularly since it will televise the last three FedExCup events.
 
'It gives us a platform we didn't have before,' NBC spokesman Brian Walker said.
 
Since the PGA TOUR doesn't appear willing to talk about the Presidents Cup, let us take this opportunity to explain what's at stake going into the final major, and final qualifying event of the season.
 
Andres Romero, the sensational 26-year-old from Argentina, has shot up from No. 35 to No. 10 in the international standings (based on world rankings) over the last three weeks and figures to be a lock for the team. Even if he gets bumped this week, it would be prudent for captain Gary Player to have another Argentine on a team with U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera.
 
The real wild card is Weir, who is No. 20 in the standings.
 
Player took Immelman at No. 22 last time, and it would be a huge mistake for him not to pick Weir. The Presidents Cup is a sellout, but the sure way to deflate some of the excitement is to leave Canada's biggest star inside the ropes. Weir is making strides, and he has the fifth-best cumulative score in the majors this year.
 
Plus, does anyone really think taking Weir over Stuart Appleby is going to keep the international team from having a chance?
 
Barring a bizarre set of circumstances, everyone through Stricker at No. 8 appears to be set on the U.S. team, which is determined by PGA TOUR earnings with double dollars in 2007. Glover is No. 10 and about $44,000 ahead of John Rollins.
 
The bigger question is whom Nicklaus will take for his captain's picks. Few players are hotter than Mahan (No. 14), but everyone else between Nos. 11 and 15 has been sliding. Jerry Kelly (No. 16) is among 13 players to have made the cut in all three majors this year, and he pulled out a clutch victory in South Africa in Sunday singles against Tim Clark.
 
DiMarco tied for fourth at Firestone -- his first top 10 in more than a year -- to move up to No. 25, and he somehow believes that's worthy of Nicklaus taking a serious look. After all, he made the winning putt last time around.
 
'I'm hoping he remembers that really well,' DiMarco said. 'I'm hoping he's thinking about that every night.'
 
It's hard to imagine Nicklaus wide awake at night thinking about the Presidents Cup.
 
But if did, even for one night, that might be more attention that the PGA TOUR is paying to an event that deserves better.
 
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