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Presidents Cup captains vow no Ryder Cup rows

United States captain Ken Venturi vows no repeat of last year's shameful American Ryder Cup antics when his Presidents Cup team faces a non-European golf squad in October.

But the long-time television commentator has dire predictions for the 2001 Ryder Cup showdown at England's Belfry as well as future US-Europe matchups.

"I will tell you this. I do believe when the Ryder Cup goes back to Europe, it's going to be something," Venturi said. "I'm quite anxious to watch because they are not going to let that die. Trust me.

"They are not letting it die over there. They are inciting the people. I don't know what's going to happen. It's going to be very interesting. I hope it doesn't happen, what they are predicting over there."

Venturi will try to reclaim the Presidents Cup from the International team guided by Australian Peter Thomson Oct. 19-22 at nearby Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Lake Manassas, Va.

Americans reclaimed the Ryder Cup last year at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., after Justin Leonard sank a pressure-packed 45-foot birdie putt and Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal failed to match him.

Celebrating American players, caddies and wives danced in celebration on the green after Leonard's putt before Olazabal had his chance to sustain Europe's hopes of keeping the Cup.

"It was a mistake, but I thought Jose Maria handled it quite well," Venturi said. "They got thrown into this so much and everyone else followed in running out on the greens. They got caught up in it a little bit."

Added to a record last-day European collapse and the boorish behavor of American hecklers that made life miserable for Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, a premature party was a huge insult -- one Venturi vows will not happen on his watch.

"Peter and I have had some meetings and talked about this and we're on the same channel," Venturi said. "I will allow everybody to run out on the green if it's the last putt, the Americans win, no play behind, nowhere to go, be my guest. But that's the only time it's going to go. When players that have to play, we have to respect the competition. That's the most important thing."

Presidents Cup ticket sales will be limited to 22,500 fans a day, something Venturi said will help keep crowds from disrepecting golf etiquette.

"What they did at Brookline is 'The door is there, come right on in.' There was beer. There was everything," Venturi said. "We want to show tradition, dedication, everything the game is about. We will bring it to both our teams."

Venturi said an underlying reason for the Ryder tension, and more relaxation with the Presidents Cup, is that non-European players are more familiar to U.S. players through friendships as well as playing on the U.S. PGA Tour.

"I can believe that, sure. I can see it," Venturi said. "I've got as many friends on the International team as the American team. Greg Norman, Nick Price, Ernie Els, David Frost, I can go on down the list. Stuart Appleby, I think the world of him.

"The European team, we are separated from them. They have their tour. We have ours. They come over for majors. But I really don't have anybody from the European team I can say I've had dinner with. I can name half the International team I dine with all during the year.

"The European team is more divorced. They come not as friends, but as a team for a championship."

Venturi also ripped European Ryder captain Mark James for not playing Jarmo Sandelin of Sweden, France's Jean Van de Velde and Scotland's Andrew Coltart before singles last year.

"I didn't like the way it was handled at the Ryder Cup. You don't want to do that to those guys," he said. "You are a team. You have got to act like a team. They didn't. You have got to respect each player. Each player I have will know they've got my respect."

Venturi said world golf officials must re-examine having U.S. teams play golf events every year while Europeans and non-Europeans each get a year off between events. He opposes adding non-Europeans to the Ryder Cup but admits it might be an answer.

"Not what I would like to see," he said. "It depends on the PGA and the Europeans, whether they want to do it. I think they have got to take a good hard look at it. There is potential there."

U.S. teams won the first two Presidents Cup events at Lake Manassas but the Internationals won the biennial event for the first time, 20 1/2-12 1/2, in 1998 at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia.

A likely U.S. captain's pick is Fred Couples, whose long putt at the 1996 Presidents Cup beat Vijay Singh and give the U.S. team a 16 1/2-15 1/2 triumph.

"To me, Freddie is Mr. Presidents Cup," Venturi said. "The two times we were there he was spectacular. He's a good leader. He's well respected. And Freddie would love to do it."

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