Originally created 04/28/04

Nicklaus, Player will return to settle score



Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player will return as captains for the Presidents Cup in 2005, giving them a chance to settle a tie they negotiated last year in South Africa.

"I know Gary and I both feel like we have some unfinished business to take care of from last time," Nicklaus said Tuesday after being selected as Presidents Cup captain for the third time.

Nicklaus and Player agreed to a tie instead of extending a sudden-death playoff between Tiger Woods and Ernie Els.

"Let's see if we can find a decisive winner," Player said. "The odds of tying in a match like that are remote."

But it could happen again.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said the playoff format has been eliminated. If the teams are tied after 34 matches next year, they simply will share the cup.

That's what transpired in November, a confusing conclusion to a phenomenal display by Woods and Els under the most intense pressure.

After the Americans rallied on the Links Course at Fancourt by winning 7 points in 12 singles matches, Woods and Els were chosen by their captains to decide the cup in a sudden-death playoff.

Flanked by their teammates, caddies and wives on every shot, Els made a 12-foot par putt on the second extra hole, and Woods followed with a 4-footer. As darkness fell, Woods made a 15-foot par putt on the next hole, and Els holed a 6-foot par putt to keep their teams and some 10,000 fans in suspense.

Both later said it was as much pressure as they had ever faced.

Nicklaus and Player, who never liked the idea of two players deciding a team competition, negotiated a tie on the green when it was too dark to continue.

"There should not have been a loser last time, and there wasn't," Nicklaus said. "If we come out the same way, the name of the game is international goodwill and competition, and we'll do our best to bring the best of both."

Nicklaus had told his players the 2003 Presidents Cup was probably his final time as captain, but he left open the possibility of a return by telling Finchem, "If you ever need me again, I'm always available."

Finchem considered a few other possibilities but kept coming back to Player and Nicklaus, a chance to extend a match two years later and halfway across the world.

The Presidents Cup will be played next fall at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Va., where it has been played every time in the United States since the matches began in 1994 between the Americans and an International team from everywhere in the world except Europe.

The United States won 21-10 in 2000 at RTJ.

This will be the first time Nicklaus leads a Presidents Cup on home soil, where the United States has never lost.