World Cup could lack a few world-class names

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

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 to 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 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 Denmark 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.

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."

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