Ryder Cup competition to switch years with Presidents Cup

Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2001

LIGONIER, Pa. -- The Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup are trading places on the calendar beginning next year, a change that golf executives described Wednesday as the only one that made sense.

The Ryder Cup, scheduled for Sept. 28-30 at The Belfry in England until it was postponed one year because of the terrorist attacks, will be played Sept. 27-29 in 2002 at the same location with the same captains and the same 12-man teams.

After that, the matches between the United States and Europe will be played permanently in even-numbered years. The Ryder Cup has been held every other year since 1927, with the exception of a 10-year break during World War II.

''I don't think playing in odd-numbered years added a whole lot to the atmosphere,'' U.S. captain Curtis Strange said Wednesday.

To accommodate the change, the PGA Tour agreed to push back the Presidents Cup one year to November 2003 in South Africa. It will be played in odd-numbered years.

''It was our position that the most likely scenario, if we made the determination to postpone the Ryder Cup, was to slide everything back,'' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. ''When we looked at the logistics of it, with a couple of exceptions, it seemed like it was not particularly difficult to do.''

Finchem said he was working on a couple of issues, including television, before announcing a 2003 date for the Presidents Cup. Also unclear was whether Presidents Cup points earned this year would carry over the next two years.

The U.S. team for the Presidents Cup is decided by PGA Tour earnings, while the International team -- players from everywhere in the world except Europe -- is selected off the world rankings.

The Ryder Cup was postponed Sunday largely because the U.S. team was wary about overseas travel and uneasy about playing golf so soon after the terrorist strikes in New York and Washington.

''I think everyone had a little nervousness about going over,'' Jim Furyk said.

With the matches postponed, the focused shifted to the Presidents Cup, and concerns that having two team events six weeks apart would be too much to ask of the U.S. players on both teams.

''The Ryder Cup has a history of being every other year, and even though we've missed one year, it was for a reason,'' Furyk said. ''Now, we just fall back in line.''

The timing of next year's Ryder Cup will lead to a two-week bonanza in Europe. The matches will be played one week after the American Express Championship, a World Golf Championship event at Mount Juliet in Ireland.

The Ryder Cup was supposed to return to the United States in 2003 at Oakland Hills Country Club outside Detroit. Those matches will take place in 2004.

''We feel comfortable with the decision,'' Rick Bayliss, chief operating officer of Oakland Hills said Wednesday. ''It will be as successful, if not more so, in 2004 as it would've been in 2003. We don't lose much of anything and the small hurdles we had to clear pale in comparisons to the challenges some others are facing.''

The Ryder Cup will be at Valhalla in 2008 and Medinah in 2012.

In Europe, the 2006 matches will be at the K-Club in Ireland, while the 2010 Ryder Cup is being sought by Slaley Hall in England, Celtic Manor in Wales and three bids in Scotland -- Loch Lomond, Carnoustie and Gleneagles.

The only tournament that could be hurt by the changes is the Solheim Cup on the LPGA Tour, which is played in even-numbered years away from the Ryder Cup. Next year, the women's matches will be in Minnesota -- one week before the Ryder Cup.

Strange and six of his Ryder Cup players are entered in the Pennsylvania Classic at Laurel Valley, site of the '75 matches.

Several players are expected to meet Tuesday at Fiesta Texas in San Antonio in advance of the Texas Open for what Finchem called a ''patriotic rally.'' The PGA Tour, PGA of America and World Golf Foundation will discuss their financial commitment to help victims of the attacks.

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