Langer leaning toward Ryder Cup candidacy

Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2002

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Unless Europe changes its selection process, Bernhard Langer is ''seriously considering'' a bid to become the next Ryder Cup captain.

''I'd like to do it sometime,'' the German star said Tuesday.

Langer is coming off a stellar performance at The Belfry, going 3-0-1 in his 10th Ryder Cup to help Europe defeat the United States. He initially talked about tying Nick Faldo's record of 11 teams, although he now is looking at 2004 more realistically.

Langer will be 47 when the matches are played at Oakland Hills.

''I'm starting to think I can make it in two years' time unless they change the qualifications,'' he said.

Langer plays almost exclusively on the PGA Tour, so finishing in the top 10 on the European tour money list is a stretch. The PGA of Europe is considering taking the top five from the money list and the top five from the world ranking.

The two-time Masters champion said he would talk to his wife over the next few weeks and determine whether he can sacrifice the time to be captain.

TIGER CLARIFICATION: According to the PGA Tour media guide, Tiger Woods' victory in Ireland made him the first player since Arnold Palmer (1960-63) to go four straight years with at least five victories.

That will change next year.

The tour has decided to retroactively count the British Open as an official victory (it wasn't until 1995). That means Tom Watson (1977-80) also will have won at least five times in four consecutive seasons.

FIRST BEER: Charles Howell III was proud of the fact he never had even a sip of alcohol in his 23 years. That changed after he won for the first time on the PGA Tour, although not by choice.

Just his luck, Howell's inaugural victory came in the Michelob Championship, and it's tradition for the winner to drink a beer.

Howell smiled and set the beer down, hopeful no one would notice.

''I thought I would get away with it, but they started booing and hollering,'' he said. ''So I said, 'Oh, shoot, I don't have a can-opener.' I didn't know it was a twist-off.''

Out of options, he took one swallow, just enough for a taste. That's all it took for him to come to this conclusion: ''I wasn't missing much.''

His caddie finished the beer.

''The first beer I opened ended up empty,'' Howell said.

GREEN JACKET: Among the golf memorabilia Gary Player is selling at private auction is an item he wasn't supposed to have -- a green jacket from Augusta National.

Player won his first Masters in 1961. After he lost to Arnold Palmer in a playoff the following year, he took his green jacket home to South Africa.

''I didn't know you were supposed to leave it there,'' Player said last week from the Senior PGA Tour event in Napa, Calif.

Clifford Roberts, the iron-fisted chairman of Augusta, called him to remind Player of the rules -- only the reigning champion can leave with a green jacket.

''I said to Mr. Roberts, 'If you want it, you can come to Johannesburg and get it,''' Player said. ''He was a pretty tough guy and he laughed. He said, 'Don't ever wear it in public.' And I never ever wore it in public.''

The memorabilia, which includes replicas of the Grand Slam trophies, is being sold on the condition that it be preserved as a collection. Still, someone will get a green jacket, and Player makes no apologies.

He noted that six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus has a green jacket on display at his museum in Columbus, Ohio, although that green jacket is on loan from the club.


LANGER'S MEMORABILIA: Bernhard Langer will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame next month, and officials have asked for some personal items that help define his life away from golf.

For his hobbies, he sent a pair of skis and a soccer ball.

''I'm a fanatic, and I used to play some,'' he said.

He also sent a Bible because of his Christianity, and a German mark. Langer said he is the only PGA Tour player who marks his ball on the green with the German coin.


OLYMPIC UPDATE: Whether golf is part of the 2008 Olympics probably won't be decided until next summer.

USGA executive director David Fay said the IOC meeting in November likely will have time only to decide which sports -- baseball, softball and modern pentathlon -- get dropped. The IOC has pledged not to increase the number of sports beyond 28.

''Once they get that settled, then it will be which sports get put on the program,'' Fay said. ''That may spill over to the next meeting in Prague in July.''

Fay and Royal & Ancient secretary Peter Dawson are joint leaders of the World Amateur Golf Council, which the IOC recognizes as the official golf federation. They met with IOC president Jaques Rogge in Switzerland last month, and Fay was optimistic.

''There is fundamental support for golf on the program,'' Fay said. ''He understands the best players are independent contractors, but he wants game-wide support from golf's bodies. I think the PGA Tour commissioner is coming around on that.''


DIVOTS: Callaway Golf was the top choice at the Senior PGA Tour stop in Napa for drivers, fairway metals, irons, wedges, putters and balls. It was the first time any company had swept every equipment category on any tour. ... The U.S. Open is now booked through 2009, which is more planning that executive director David Fay imagined. ''The rule of thumb when I first joined the USGA in 1978 was to try to get out five years,'' Fay said. ''The show has become so big, we now have to go seven years.''


STAT OF THE WEEK: With three tournaments left in the season, Tiger Woods has clinched his fourth consecutive PGA Tour money title. Tom Watson (1977-80) was the last player to win four straight money titles.


FINAL WORD: ''They won't put a bridge there for me now.'' -- Gary Player, who was critical of Augusta National's policy on past champions, asked whether the club will ever commemorate his three Masters victories.

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