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Fred Couples to enlist some unusual help

Captain Fred Couples has lined up Michael Jordan to help out on his U.S. Presidents Cup team, has invited comedian Robin Williams to pitch in, but he is most eager to get Tiger Woods on board.

Woods, forced out for the season after having knee surgery following his playoff victory in June at the U.S. Open, plans to return to competition in 2009 and the match play competition is scheduled for Oct. 8-11 in San Francisco.

“If he’s ready to play at whatever time of year, he’ll be ready to play in the Presidents Cup,” Couples told a news conference on Wednesday.

“He’s not one to show up just to get out of the house. He’ll be ready. He’ll lead our team. He’s a great leader.”

Couples scoffed at the notion the triumphant U.S. Ryder Cup team, which beat Europe last month for the first time since 1999, was somehow better off without Woods.

“When he’s on your team, he’s a leader. He has fun with the next guy in line, or the 12th guy in line. He’s looking to hang with the boys,” Couples said.

“He is a team player, and he’s fun to be around and he’s the best player in the world and I can’t wait to have him on our team.”

International captain Greg Norman said he thought Woods’s absence at the end of the year provided young players with a better chance to shine.

“It was good for the game of golf,” said Norman.

“If I was a young kid on that Ryder Cup team or I’m Camilo Villegas or Sergio Garcia or Aaron Baddeley or anybody in that age group who’s gone out there, gone up against Tiger and got their rear ends handed to them week in week out … now they’ve got the time to get a little confidence under their belt.

“Look at what Camilo has done in the race for the Fedex Cup series,” Norman said about the 26-year-old Colombian who could well be on his International team. “Two back-to-back victories. That should give him a lot of energy entering 2009.”

Couples was already thinking about some off-course energy to help his team next year.

The U.S. captain said former NBA great Jordan, an avid golfer, would be an “assistant assistant” for the matches.

“He’s been to every Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup that I’ve played in. He’s extremely passionate about the game of golf,” said Couples.

“I believe he can bring something to our team. He has won six NBA championships, been MVP of the league forever. He’s dealt with team-mates that were phenomenal players and maybe team-mates that couldn’t play for another team.

“I think he may be able to instill something to my team.”

Couples said Williams could contribute comic relief and hoped he would accept his invite.

“I’ve been on nine teams (Ryder and Presidents Cup) and a lot of times it’s not the most exciting time at night. I thought Robin would come and loosen us up, maybe he can give us 15 or 20 minutes of his comedic routine.

“Once you get up in the morning it’s golf all day long, and at night, you eat quickly, the players want to relax and he’s just one of my all-time favourites.”


October 9, 2008

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