Not A Bad Idea at All

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2001 Warburg CupThe inaugural UBS Warburg Cup begins Friday with teams comprised of players in their 40s (Mark O'Meara, Nick Faldo) and in their 70s as well (Arnold Palmer).
 
Actually, the idea pits two 12-man teams divided equally with players in the 'over 40' category and the 'over 50' category. The United States vs. The World, as it's being billed, is taking place at the famed Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. Who cares if the wind blows and the scores soar, right?
 
As World Team competitor Des Smyth of Ireland put it, 'You look up and down the range and it's just awesome!'
 
With names like Palmer and Gary Player serving as 'playing captains' who will lead others like O'Meara and Faldo, Tom Watson and Bernhard Langer, Mark Calcavecchia and Ian Woosnam, Raymond Floyd and Isao Aoki, Curtis Strange and Sam Torrance, this cup has the chance to runneth over with excitement.
 
Watson himself said this is a great opportunity and a fantastic event in the making. 'Its kind of a nice replacement for the Ryder Cup this year. An unfortunate one. But this will be fun and definitely competitive.'
 
The resumes speak for themselves. More than 1000 tournament wins between the 24 competitors and 66 majors. Granted, 18 come from the now non-playing team member Jack Nicklaus, who had to withdraw from the event due to injury. He was replaced by Dana Quigley, who showed up on the putting green before Thursday's pro-am brimming with excitement. 'This is like a Christmas present!' he said.
 
What sets this competition apart from, say, the Ryder Cup or Solheim Cup, is that there's a purse at stake, and actually a pro-am taking place prior to Friday's opening matches. The winners will each take home $150,000 and those on the losing side will pocket $100,000 each. Not bad with the holidays drawing near.
 
U.S. team member Scott Hoch, a two-time PGA Tour winner in 2001, told me at a Wednesday night dinner that this event has great promise. 'I think its great,' he said, 'I'm really glad to be a part of it.'
 
What will make this event stand out - I hope - is the chance for competition going hand-in-hand with entertainment. I know it's tough to tell Hale Irwin and Raymond Floyd to smile and shake hands while contemplating shots in a 'four-ball' match, but if they can do it, and even shake a few hands along the fairway, this will be an event that could grow. It is scheduled for at least the next five years.
 
I'm certainly not advocating a rebirth of the 1991 Ryder Cup matches, which forever live as the 'War by the Shore.' In fact, I hope Bernhard Langer makes the putt at the 18th this time around. I hope Mark Calcavecchia makes his way to the clubhouse with a string of birdies instead of looking for a rope to hang himself.
 
I can't wait to walk the fairways with these stars, and my hunch is that those who come out or watch our coverage on The Golf Channel will have just as much fun. After all, don't we deserve some fun with the current state of affairs going on around us?
 
What a chance for fans to make their way to the island, see some of the games greatest and take a stroll on a course rich with tradition. Don't miss it!