Sluman Selected as Nicklaus Assistant


AKRON, Ohio (AP) -- A summer slump with his putter cost Jeff Sluman a chance to make the Presidents Cup team, but it won't keep him from going to South Africa. And he still might have a chance to play.
U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus planned to pick Sluman as his assistant captain Wednesday with instructions to bring his clubs in case someone can't play.
Sluman, who finished 14th in the U.S. standings, has never played in a Ryder Cup or a Presidents Cup.
'That assistant captain has been told to have his golf game ready, and if one of the boys happens to get sick or can't play when they're in South Africa, he would be the alternate there,' Nicklaus said in a conference call Monday.
If an American player decides in the next few weeks not to go, Nicklaus said he might select another player because he needs 'an assistant captain and somebody who is actively working while we're there.'
When the Links at Fancourt was selected as the site of this Presidents Cup, several top Americans were skeptical of going to South Africa the week before Thanksgiving.
Everyone is expected to go - Tiger Woods, included - but nothing is official yet.
'Has anyone committed?' Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg at IMG, said last week. 'The tour has asked me for one. They want to be able to promote it on TV. Tiger and I said we'd get through the week and then firm up the rest of the year.'
Phil Mickelson said late last year that it might be a last-minute decision. He doesn't play much in the offseason, and suggested his rusty game might be a liability. But Mickelson told his spokesman on Sunday he was playing.
'It potentially will be the first time he's lifted a club in weeks,' said T.R. Reinman of Gaylord Sports. 'But he has every intention of going.'
These kind of questions never come up with the Ryder Cup, which has 70 years of tradition and a history of hard-fought matches on its side.
The last time the Presidents Cup was held outside the United States, the Nicklaus-led team did not have its heart in the matches and suffered the worst U.S. loss ever in a team competition, 20 1/2-11 1/2.
Mike Bodney, the PGA Tour senior vice president in charge of the Presidents Cup, said it doesn't require commitments like a regular tour event, and 'everybody is going.'
'We've got clothing for everyone who is eligible,' Bodney said.
He also said a public announcement by Woods isn't necessary to promote the event.
'We don't promote the individual,' he said. 'Everything is done as a team.'
After this year, the Presidents Cup won't leave North America for six years.
The Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia, site of the three previous Presidents Cup matches, will be announced Wednesday as the 2005 site.
Plans are under way to send the 2007 matches to Royal Montreal Golf Club in Canada.
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