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A Matter of Timing

The fourthh biennial Presidents Cup matches get underway Oct. 19th at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Lake Manassas, Va., where the United States will once again be looking to use the home course to its advantage.
This is the third time the Presidents Cup has visited the state of Virginia. On each of the two previous occasions, the United States proved victorious. However, the last time this event was contested, 1998, the International squad routed the Americans in Melbourne, Australia.
'Not winning last time made us more focused on it this time,' said Davis Love III, who went 1-3-1 in 1998.
David Duval agrees.
'Some of it comes from the fact that we lost last time, and some come from the experience of the Ryder Cup, and the idea of competing as a team,' Duval said. 'I don't remember the exact score from (1998), but I know they beat us pretty bad.'
'Pretty bad' might be an understatement. The heavily favored Americans fell to the Internationals, 20 - 11 . None of the 12 U.S. players were able to compile a winning record. In fact, Duval went 0-4-1. By contrast, Carlos Franco was the only International player with a losing record.
Apathy may have been the biggest determent to the U.S. side. Two years ago, the event was played in Australia in December. This year it will take place in Virginia in October.
'I don't know if the timing of that event lent itself to a great deal of enthusiasm on our side,' Duval said.
Said Love: 'No offense to Australia, but we just didn't want to be down there two weeks before Christmas. People aren't used to playing big-time golf that time of year.
'When you're talking about traveling around the world, that's tough. This time it's back in the United States and it's in the middle of our season. It's a good time, and people are more excited about it.'
Perhaps the most excited are those making their maiden debuts in professional team competition. On the U.S. side, Notah Begay, Kirk Triplett and Stewart Cink are making their first appearances in either a Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup.

'It took a lot of effort to qualify, and I think I've earned the opportunity to enjoy it now,' said Begay, a two-time winner in 2000. 'I'm going to do everything I can to take it all in and learn as much as possible. It's a great opportunity for me, and I'm going to do everything I can to contribute to this team.'

There are also three rookies on the International side - South African Retief Goosen, New Zealander Michael Campbell and Canadian Mike Weir.

Ken Venturi and Peter Thomson will captain the U.S. and International teams, respectively. The event will be played over four days, beginning with afternoon foursomes on Oct. 19th. Friday, Fourball matches will be played in the morning, with Foursomes taking place in the afternoon. Saturday will conclude with afternoon Fourball.

There are 12 singles matches involving all players on the final Sunday. Each match is worth one point. A tie is worth a point to each team. A total of 32 points are up for grabs. Should the event end in a deadlock at the end of singles play, there will be a sudden-death playoff between two players designated in advance by the respective captains.

The United States team was determined based on official earnings from the start of the 1999 season through the 2000 PGA Championship, with all 2000 earnings doubled. The top 10 players on this list automatically qualified for the team, with Venturi selecting two additional members; in this case, Loren Roberts and Paul Azinger.

The International team was chosen on the basis of the Official World Golf Ranking through events scheduled to conclude on August 20, 2000. The top 10 non-European players automatically qualified, with Thomson also selecting two additional team members - Robert Allenby and Steve Elkington.