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This week in golf

Teeing Off

Five things to look for on the professional golf scene:

September 27, 2007|Thomas Bonk, | Times Staff Writer

1The Presidents Cup has nothing to do with statesmanship but plenty to do with politics. It was born of the PGA Tour's desire to stage a Ryder Cup-like competition in the years when the Ryder Cup isn't played. So this week's edition at Royal Montreal Golf Club is the seventh, with the U.S. holding a 4-1-1 lead over the International team.

As everyone may realize, the International team's boundaries end at Europe, because that's the opponent the U.S. team plays in the Ryder Cup. And as everyone should realize, that means that the top U.S. players take part in major, international match-play competition every year.

If that's a burden, Tiger Woods said we should all get used to it.

"The scheduling won't change. It is what it is," Woods said. "It's interesting, because the Europeans say, 'How do you guys do it every year?' It's what we do."

In 2008, there is no week between the Tour Championship with its FedEx Cup finale, and the Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club at Louisville, Ky. Counting the three weeks of FedEx Cup playoff tournaments that lead in, that's five straight weeks for the top players.

Gentlemen, prepare your absence slips. By the way, Woods teams with Charles Howell III in today's matches.

2If you're into numbers, consider this: The U.S. team at the Presidents Cup has the top four players in the rankings -- Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker -- and the international team has nine of the next 15. The U.S. has not won an international match-play event that wasn't played in the U.S. since the 1993 Ryder Cup at the Belfry in England.

3Woods said Jack Nicklaus favors a hands-off approach as team captain, and that's fine.

"I think that's one of the great things Jack does. . . he gets out of the way," Woods said. "When he does speak, though, everyone listens because, obviously, he is the greatest player of all time. You always want to hear what he's going to say. But he doesn't speak very often, which makes it very interesting."

4Guess who is choosing this week to make a comeback? It's David Duval, who's at the $3.5-million Viking Classic at Annandale Golf Club in Madison, Miss.

Duval, who turns 36 in five weeks, has played only five tournaments this year, but not since he missed the cut at Riviera in February. He has been banged up, but he has also spent most of his time with his wife, Susie, whose pregnancy has been difficult.

But where will he play next year, assuming he wants to? Duval's exempt status on the PGA Tour as the 2001 British Open champion ran out last year and he's playing this year as being in the top 25 in career earnings. He can use the same exemption again in 2008, as long as he's still in the top 25 at the end of 2007. Right now, he has about a $350,000 lead on No. 26 Adam Scott.

5So much for the thrill of playing the Masters. Colt Knost, the U.S. Amateur champion, Walker Cup star and Public Links champion, turned pro this week even though he could have remained an amateur and played at Augusta. Knost, 22, said the time had come to start making money. He's in the Valero Texas Open next week and will try PGA Tour qualifying school in November.

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