Players Jockey for Presidents Cup


On the third week of November the best professional golfers in America will convene for the fifth playing of the Presidents Cup. The venue will be the The Links Course at Fancourt Hotel and Country Club in George, South Africa.
Thats a long name and its been a long time since our guys have taken on the International team in this event. The last Presidents Cup was 2000 when we scored a 21 -10 victory over the Is after they had clobbered us in Australia two years earlier, 20 to 11 .
The tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, caused the matches at Fancourt to be pushed back a year. But now the time is suddenly short for the naming of the American team which will be captained once again by Jack Nicklaus.
To be sure, the upcoming PGA Championship, which begins a week from Thursday at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y., will be the last tournament in which American players can earn points.
Which brings us to Chris DiMarco. DiMarco made a deft save for par Sunday on the 72nd hole of the Buick Open to gain a share of second place and build his eighth-place lead over ninth-place Jerry Kelly to a commanding 620,751 points.
The top 10 players automatically make the squad. Nicklaus has indicated that his two captains choices will be the 11th and 12th men on the points list.
That is a major goal, DiMarco said moments after he and three others tied for second, two shots behind winner Jim Furyk. Everybody thats vying for a spot was here and I was trying to not let any of those guys finish ahead of me. So that was very good for points.
On the bubble at the moment for the Americans are Bob Estes in 10th at 6,336,600; Charles Howell III in 11th at 6,110,786 and Fred Funk in 12th at 6,065,346. Jeff Sluman is currently 13th (5,790,309, Scott Verplank 14th (5,730,490) and Brad Faxon (5,339,568.).
Playing for your country is probably the most intriguing part of the whole thing, said DiMarco who has not yet made an American Presidents Cup team. I dont know anybody who would not want to play for their country.
Tiger Woods almost certainly will play for the American team. In fact, in the last year or so there has been a decided shift among our top players to honor the patriotic call and travel to South Africa. Meanwhile the Is are picking their players off the World Golf Rankings. Which is why Australian Adam Scotts victory in Sweden Sunday was so important to him. It likely sewed up a spot on a team that will include heavyweights like Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Mike Weir and relative unknowns Peter Lonard, Stephen Leaney and K.J. Choi.
You will be hearing a lot more about these points races in the next two weeks. The PGA Championship, every other year, is the final event before the selecting of the Ryder Cup team. This, however, is a Presidents Cup year.
Gary Player, by the way will be captaining the Is. And when his press conferences begin in earnest, you will REALLY start hearing a lot more about the matches.