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Golf Notes May 14th

Masters champion Mike Weir has traveled to Argentina, Japan and Mexico the last three years to play in the World Cup, a rare chance for him to represent Canada in a team competition.

The World Cup is in Kiawah Island, S.C., this year, but Weir has little choice but to take himself - and possibly his country - out of the tournament.

Because of scheduling problems created by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the World Cup will be played Nov. 13-16, one week before the Presidents Cup in South Africa.

"It looks like if I don't go, Canada might not be able to qualify," Weir said. "On the other hand, if I play in the World Cup I lose a day and don't get to South Africa until Tuesday. That gives me one practice round, and that's not fair to the Presidents Cup team.

"I'm in a tough spot."

He's not alone.

Along with the defending champion (Japan), only the top 17 players from different countries are exempt to the World Cup.

Weir currently is at No. 5 in the world ranking. If he decides not to play, Canada's spot would go to the country with the next highest-ranked player available - Thomas Bjorn (No. 64) and Sweden if the teams were chosen today. Ian Leggatt is the next highest-ranked Canadian at No. 179.

K.J. Choi might qualify for his first Presidents Cup team and could face the same problem as Weir. Next in line for South Korea is S.K. Ho at No. 156.

Vijay Singh has played the last two World Cups. Fiji's next-best player is Dinesh Chand, who checks in this week at No. 353. Then again, no one would be surprised if Singh played the World Cup and the Presidents Cup.

Also affected is Zimbabwe, although Nick Price hasn't played the World Cup in 10 years.

The Presidents Cup team will be decided Aug. 17. The qualifications deadline for the World Cup is Sept. 22.

Canada, South Korea and other countries affected by the scheduling still could play in the World Cup by earning one of the six spots available through qualifying.

The Presidents Cup - matches between the United States and an International team from everywhere but Europe - had been played in even-numbered years, but was pushed back to 2003 when the Ryder Cup was delayed.

Ed Moorhouse, chief operating officer for the PGA Tour, said officials had no choice but to put the World Cup one week before the Presidents Cup.

"There were a lot of moving parts, and that was the only place the World Cup would fit in," he said. "This is going to be the only year we'll have that scheduling issue."

PARTY GIRL: Louise Suggs doesn't get to many LPGA Tour events because of knee replacement surgery, but she's planning a special trip in September.

Suggs, an LPGA founder and member of the Hall of Fame, has been invited to the Solheim Cup in Sweden, the week after she turns 80.

"That's going to be one hell of a party over the Atlantic," Suggs said.

DUVAL UPDATE: While Annika Sorenstam has talked about a practice round next week with David Duval, there was a time when Duval wasn't sure he would play the Colonial.

He has played every week since Houston. Since he always plays Memorial, that would mean six straight tournaments leading to his preparations for the U.S. Open.

Now, Duval says there is "better than a 50-50 chance" he'll be at Colonial.

"I didn't anticipate having so many weekends off," said Duval, who has missed the cut in his last six tournaments and has not played a Sunday round since February.

RYDER CUP: Europeans do not start qualifying for the Ryder Cup until September, but this week could go a long way toward building its team.

European tour officials will meet during the Deustche Bank-SAP Open to discuss whether to change its selection process to include five players from the world rankings and five from the money list, instead of 10 players from the money list.

Also on the agenda - selecting a captain.

Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam are the leading candidates, but Langer might rule himself out for 2004 because he is thinks he can qualify for his 11th team, and because he wants to see his daughter off to college. Sandy Lyle also wants to be considered.

A decision on the captain might not come until July.

CARS, HOTLINE AND A WARNING: Maybe the players had it too good at the Wachovia Championship.

They were given a Mercedes-Benz as a courtesy car, and a special phone number to call for a police escort if they were stuck in traffic.

They also got a warning.

A note in the locker room at Quail Hollow said, "Please be cognizant of the speed limits and other traffic laws. Police have observed a number of courtesy cars exceeding the speed limit and being operated in an unsafe manner."

GIVING BACK: Laura Diaz and her teammates at Wake Forest made a pledge that if one of them made it big on the LPGA Tour, she would buy the women's golf team a new van.

Diaz never forgot.

During the Wake Forest annual pro-am two weeks ago, Diaz gave coach Dianne Dailey the title to a new van. It has leather seats and a TV, plus a VCR and DVD player.

"It's a wonderful gift," Dailey said. "For Laura to give back to the university in this way really means a lot."

Diaz, who graduated in 1997, won twice on the LPGA Tour last year.

DIVOTS: With Steve Flesch winning in New Orleans, Skip Kendall takes over as the active player who has won the most money without winning. Kendall has played 276 events on the PGA Tour and earned more than $5.2 million. ... Mi Hyun Kim has made the cut in 52 consecutive LPGA events, the longest active streak on tour. ... Asked whether she moved into the same neighborhood as Charles Howell III, Se Ri Pak replied, "I don't know who this is."

STAT OF THE WEEK: Phil Mickelson has been "low lefty" in only two of the eight PGA Tour events he has played this year - the Buick Invitational and Match Play Championship. He and Mike Weir tied for ninth in the Phoenix Open.

FINAL WORD: "I think we can get a keg of something shipped in." - Masters champion Mike Weir of Canada, asked what he would be on the menu for next year's champions dinner at Augusta National.

 

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