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Captains believe Presidents Cup will grow

With its global reach and stronger line-ups the Presidents Cup can replace the Ryder Cup as golf's most prestigious team competition, according to rival captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

"I think that the potential of the Presidents Cup to be greater than the Ryder Cup is there, simply because the scope is larger," Nicklaus said on Tuesday as his U.S. team practised for their clash with the International team.

"You look at the players that are in the event and I think there are probably more good players in the Presidents Cup as it relates to world rankings than probably if you played the Ryder Cup," he told reporters at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course.

With eight of the world's top 10 players and the winners of the season's four majors teeing up in Virginia, the Presidents Cup possesses the pure star power that Ryder Cups have often lacked.

While the Europeans handed the U.S. a record-breaking defeat at last year's Ryder Cup in Detroit the victory was accomplished without the calibre of talent that will provide the opposition this week.

The International team will be led by world number two Vijay Singh of Fiji, with South African Retief Goosen and in-form U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell of New Zealand providing plenty of support.

The 12-member U.S. squad will be anchored by world number one Tiger Woods with U.S. PGA champion Phil Mickelson backing up the U.S. Masters and British Open winner.

"The Presidents Cup is played in different parts of the world, not just America and Europe," said Player.

"I'd be so bold as to say...if you look at our team, if Ernie Els were on our team today, I think we would have a better team than the European Ryder Cup team.

"Not to say if we were to play them we would beat them, I think we would.

"It's a stronger team so therefore it's going to create a lot of interest around the world and the number of viewers you get will increase," said the South African, who completed the grand slam at the age of 29 in 1965.

Despite it's broad reach and marquee names, the Presidents Cup has not yet been able to create the type of passion and combativeness spawned by the Ryder Cup.

That lack of emotion can be partly explained by the Presidents Cup's relatively brief history.

While the U.S. and Europe have been doing battle since 1927, the Presidents Cup only came into existence in 1994 and is being played for just the sixth time.

"As an event it's probably not as evolved as the Ryder Cup," said Australia's Stuart Appleby. "It's evolution and growth process is still going along very strong.

"I think the Ryder Cup has certainly levelled out.

"We've got a lot of growing and I think 50 years from now it will very much be the same historical sense as what the Ryder Cup has been to the Europeans and the Americans."

With the 2003 Presidents Cup having ended in the South African twilight with handshakes, smiles and a draw, all the ingredients are in place for a mouth-watering grudge match when play begins on Thursday with six foursome matches.

But despite that bit of unfinished business, two years of simmering has done little to stir the pot.

"I think the Presidents Cup has come of age," said Nicklaus, downplaying any hint of a rivalry. "I think the event in South Africa (2003) moved it up a big notch.

"I think it showed to the world that golf is a game, not a war," said the American, who won a record 18 grand slam tournaments.

"It's for international goodwill, it's for bragging rights, and when 24 players walk away all winners, I thought that was very special.

"I'm sure we're looking forward to a match played in good spirit, played the right way and very similar to what was played in South Africa."


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