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Jack Nicklaus says International team have strength in depth

Although the U.S. have dominated the Presidents Cup, captain Jack Nicklaus believes the Internationals boast greater strength in depth this year.

The two 12-man teams will meet for the seventh time in the biennial Ryder Cup-style competition at the Royal Montreal Golf Club in Quebec, Canada from September 27-30.

"I think there are more international stars in the game today than we have U.S. stars," American Nicklaus said during a conference call on Monday.

"If you look at the Match Play Championship that was played earlier this year in Tucson, 64 players qualified for that championship and only 22 of them were U.S. players.

"Gary (Player) has an excellent squad of players for the International team, and probably more quality players to choose from. It used to be the other way around but it's not anymore.

"Lately, outside of Tiger (Woods), there's really been a very, very strong influence of international players that have dominated the game."

Nicklaus, like Player returning as captain for the third successive time, is not bothered if his U.S. team goes into this year's competition as underdogs.

"It really doesn't make any difference to me," the 18-times major winner said. "We've got some very, very good players in the United States and we'll have a very representative team. Whoever walks away with the most points wins."

South African Player is not tempted to select a Canadian as one of his two captain's picks simply because the event is being staged in Canada for the first time.

"I cannot put people on the team just for sentiment," the nine-times major champion said.

"We owe it to the public and we owe it to our teams to be as competitive as possible and try and win the event."

Stephen Ames and 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir, Canada's top two players, were 15th and 18th in the Internationals rankings at the start of this week.

"My office sends the list wherever I am every week and the first person I happen to look for is Mike Weir because I realize we're playing in Canada," Player said.

"But it's a long way to go. We've still got another 10 tournaments, another three majors. With the capability that they (Ames and Weir) have, I've got a lot of confidence that one of them will make the team."

The Americans have won four of the six Presidents Cup encounters, including a thrilling victory in 2005 by 18- points to 15- in Lake Manassas, Virginia.

The only triumph by the Internationals came in 1998 when the event was staged in Melbourne, Australia. The teams shared the trophy in South Africa in 2003 after a sudden-death playoff between Woods and Ernie Els was called off in fading light.


June 5, 2007

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