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A Tie That Binds

It will undoubtedly make some people angry, this decision by 24 players and two captains in the Presidents Cup. Got to have a winner, you know. Hang the sportsmanship or whatever. Just let me know who the winner is.

Those people can leave the room now. They arent going to like this sermon. They can go cheer their basketball teams until kingdom come. There never is a tie in basketball, you know.

And there wasnt supposed to be a tie in the Presidents Cup. If the score did happen to be deadlocked, well then, the side which had won the previous Cup got to retain it. Marquis of Queensbury rules and all, you know.

Thats the way they do it in the Ryder Cup. And after all, the Ryder Cup is the most successful week in golf history.

But maybe theyve got it wrong in the Ryder Cup. For one week, both sides step to their corners and proceed to growl at each other. For one week, the nations of Europe and America are dead-set against each other. And regardless of how hard the players try to change it, the rabid fans of both sides wont hear of it.

Maybe, though, we saw something last week that is worth noting. Leave the basketball, baseball, football, hockey and soccer to the hotheads. Maybe now, golf has taken on a new meaning.

Davis Love III noticed it immediately. I think it showed that it is different from the Ryder Cup, he said.

The Ryder Cup has gotten a little over the top. We've seen that in the last few years. And this tournament, we've stressed, from presidents to captains on the stage and dignitaries on the stage, they all got up and said, We want these matches to be played fairly.

That's the way it ended and that shows the world that we are going to play these matches for fun, for the love of the game and we are not going to beat each other's brains out over it.

That somehow is an idea that has gotten away from us the last 25 years or so. Tony Jacklin felt that the only way to make Europe competitive was to isolate the team a little from the Americans. And it worked. The Kiawah Island debacle was a continuation, the following matches in England was just plain nasty, the heckling of Colin Montgomerie in Boston was nothing but a national disgrace. Last year it was a bit more civil on both sides, but there is no shortage of bad blood here.

And then ' this. This was truly a breath of fresh air. What ' both sides shake hands and share the Cup? Are you crazy ' what has happened to the modern conception of sport?

Its the right thing to do, agreed the 24 players. After I had made the putt, I was on the front left part of the green on (the second hole) and Jack came up to me - as well as Gary - and mentioned to me, if Ernie makes a putt, why don't we just call it a tie and move on? said Tiger Woods.

Then Commissioner Finchem was on the phone with Jack, and he mentioned that if there's a tie, then the Americans would retain the Cup - and that's not something that obviously the International Team would want to have happen.

So, Jack decided to propose the idea of having a shared cup to Gary at the time, and both of the captains agreed. Gary went back to his team, his team agreed, and it was the right thing to do for the game of golf.

Actually, both captains agreed earlier in the week that the no-tie rule was a pretty good idea. But it became increasingly clear as Woods and Ernie Els continued their playoff that it really wasnt a good idea. Neither Jack Nicklaus nor Gary Player had the stomach for it. Neither did Woods or Els. Neither did anyone on either team.

As soon as the match ended in a tie, we both started talking that we did not want to have this, said Nicklaus.

You know, said Els, it's only a game, isn't it, at the end. It's a game you don't want to lose, but it's a game.

You know, I think in the spirit of the Presidents Cup, the way we've been playing these matches over the years, I think this is a fitting finish to this one. We really beat each other up, and at the end of the day, I think we were so evenly matched, it would have been unfair to myself and Tiger to win or lose the Cup.
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