Internationals no pushover for U.S. team Norman, Els, Ozaki make foe formidable

September 13, 1996|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

LAKE MANASSAS, Va. -- When the first Presidents Cup competition was held at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club two years ago, the United States jumped to a 5-0 lead the first morning and was not headed in a 20-12 victory.

Don't expect that kind of a start when the second of the biennial matches begins this morning. Not only will the outcome probably be much closer, but the International team, bolstered by three of the world's best players who were absent the first time, could win it.

Such was not the case before, but put Greg Norman, Ernie Els, and Jumbo Ozaki in the mix, and it puts a different light on the picture. In the world rankings, they are currently first, third and sixth, respectively.

All three will be in action this morning when five four-ball matches will be held.

Nick Price, who arrived Tuesday night following the birth of his third child, a daughter, in Orlando, Fla., said the new team members have "been a huge morale booster."

"Everyone that is qualified is going to play," Price said, "and that's a big bonus for us. And, we're very excited with the fact that Jumbo agreed to play."

NOTES: Price, who has been bothered by sinus problems all summer, missed last week's Canadian Open and admits he is not 100 percent. "I'm on antibiotics, and the more they work, the stronger I feel." The weather will help, too, as cool, overcast conditions are forecast, with possible rain showers. "Hot and humid, and I'd be in a lot more trouble," he said. Recent rains have saturated the course, but it is beginning to dry out, although Norman believes it will play every bit of its 7,289 yards. Couples, Love and Stricker are among the top 10 in PGA Tour driving distance (all averaging more than 280 yards), and Norman and Ozaki are in the same neighborhood.

Presidents Cup

What: Second biennial competition involving the United States and the International Team.

When: Today-Sunday

Where: Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, Lake Manassas, Va.

TV: Today, ESPN, 8 a.m.-noon and 2-6: 30 p.m. Tomorrow, CBS, 3: 30-6 p.m. Sunday, CBS 1-6 p.m.

Defending champion: The U.S. team won, 20-12, in 1994.

Format: Today, Five four-ball (better ball) matches and five foursome (alternate shot) matches. Tomorrow, Five four-ball matches and five foursome matches. Sunday, 12 singles matches. All matches are worth one point and are contested by match play. Thirty-two points are at stake with 16 1/2 needed to win.

Tickets: A limited number of $125 regular-season badges and $250 clubhouse season badges will be sold at the gate. No single-day tickets will be sold.

Pub Date: 9/13/96

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