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Friendly Fire

Does familiarity breed contempt? Ken Venturi and Peter Thomson hope not in regards to the 4th BIennial Presidents Cup.
Wednesday, the United States and International captains spoke on the importance of sportsmanship over gamesmanship this week in Price William County, Va.
'I was personally disgusted really with what happened at Boston,' Thomson said of the 1999 Ryder Cup. 'There's no point in anybody hurling any abuse; it just won't happen with this contest, I'm sure.'
No raucous celebrations. No verbal abuse from the fans. No disparaging remarks from the players.
'I hope that we will be a competition that will be copied and a lot of people will speak about our teams and the respect that they had, both sides had, for the game. That's our ultimate goal,' said Venturi.
So what should we expect? Peace, love and happiness? Not quite. There will be plenty of hard-fought matches. Plenty of bitter defeats. Plenty of high-fives and fist pumps. But each side has agreed to be graceful in victory as well as defeat.
This might technically be an international competition, but it more closely resembles a PGA Tour event divided among lines of nationality.
In fact, unlike past Ryder Cups, the players representing these two teams see each other on a regular basis.
'I think we know the American team better than the Ryder Cup team (did),' said Australian Steve Elkington. 'We play (against) them all the time.'
Of the 12 International players, only two of them aren't official PGA Tour members. Retief Goosen and Michael Campbell are those two players, though, neither is a stranger to the U.S. team. Both have played extensively on American soil; and both are worldwide winners many times over.
Residency is another factor of familiarity. Over half of the 'International' team has at least a part-time home in the state of Florida.
'We live in the same places,' said Australian Greg Norman, who resides in Hobe Sound, Fla. 'The good advantage for us it that a lot of us live here in the United States. We are in certain ways friendly faces.'
'It seems like every single (International player) lives in Orlando and plays the U.S. tour,' said Phil Mickelson. 'So we're good friends with just about everyone on the (International) team.'
So what are these guys fighting for - neighborhood bragging rights? Hardly. Each team has something to prove in 2000. The U.S. is looking for revenge following a nine-point defeat - the largest in either of the two major international competitions - two years ago.
'Anytime you get beaten that badly, it makes you more motivated the next time,' said David Love III, who went 1-3-1 in 1998.
The Internationals are trying to show that `98's drubbing was no fluke. Certainly, a win in the United States would prove that.
'It's a stimulus, because we haven't won here,' said Norman. 'We'd like to win here. We've come close the last couple of times on this golf course. We strongly believe we can. But it's not that easy. It's not as easy as going down to Australia and knowing the golf course.'
The first two Presidents Cups were contested at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club. The U.S. won, 20-12, in 1994. However, the Americans retained the Cup in 1996 by a mere one point.
Wednesday, the captains released their respective pairings for Day-1 foursome matches.
Phil Mickelson and Tom Lehman, who have combined for five Presidents Cup appearances, will face Australians Greg Norman and Steve Elkington. Elkington has played in each of the previous three Presidents Cup matches, while Norman has played in the past two. Norman qualified for the 1994 team, but had to skip the event due to injury.
The second match features Hal Sutton and Jim Furyk against another pair of Aussies, Robert Allenby and Stuart Appleby. Sutton is a Presidents Cup rookie; Allenby played in 1994 and 1996; and Appleby and Furyk each made their debuts two years ago.
The third match of the day pits a foursome of Presidents Cup rookies. Stewart Cink and Kirk Triplett will face Canadian Mike Weir and South African Retief Goosen.
The marquee match is in the fourth group - Tiger Woods and Notah Begay III versus Vijay Singh and Ernie Els. Woods and Begay are former Stanford teammates. Singh and Els have combined for four major championships. This is the first time Woods has played since winning the Bell Canadian Open six weeks ago.
'It just came out like that,' Thomson said of the match-up. 'It wasn't planned. I had my pairs in the sequence and logically, Ken must have has his the same way.
'I want to see this Presidents Cup succeed, and this is a great step for it. And I hope in the succeeding rounds there's also some pretty good match-ups that see Tiger under a bit of pressure.'
The final match of the day has David Duval and Love facing Nick Price and Carlos Franco. Love joins Mickelson as the only American players to compete in all four Presidents Cup matches. Duval competed in 1996 and 1998. He was a perfect 4-0-0 in `96, and a dismal 0-4-1 in '98.
Price has played in the three previous President Cup matches, with a career record of 4-6-4. Franco made his debut in 1998. The Paraguayan was 0-2-1, the only member of the victorious '98 squad to record a losing record.
Venturi decided to sit out his two captain's selections on day one. Loren Roberts, who played in the inaugural Presidents Cup in 1994, and Paul Azinger, who is participating in his first President Cup, will watch from the sidelines on Thursday.
'I left off Loren Roberts and Azinger because they were my picks,' Venturi said. 'I let the ten who qualified be up there (on Thursday.)'
Presidents Cup rookie Campbell and '98 hero Shigeki Maruyama will also have to wait a day to see action. The Japanese star went a perfect 5-0-0 two years ago.
'I'm really happy to get to rest tomorrow and can practice the whole day and get ready for Friday and the rest of the days,' said Maruyama.
Shigeki may need that extra rest. Thomson stated on Thursday: '(Maruyama) will get his chance tomorrow, he'll play twice tomorrow or the next day, I'm not sure. But he plays from here on.'
Play will commence Thursday at 12:10 p.m. ET. Thursday's format is foursomes, or alternate shot. Friday, the two teams will compete in five morning four-ball matches, or better ball, and then play five afternoon foursomes.
Saturday, play will consists of five four-ball matches. Sunday, there will be 12 singles matches. Thirty-two points are up for grabs. Sixteen-and-a-half points are needed for victory.
Should the overall match end in a 16-16 tie, a sudden-death playoff will be played, with the captains choosing one player to compete from their respective teams.