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Golf notebook: Kuchar finds new World Cup partner

The SportsXchange

--Matt Kuchar finally has a playing partner, Kevin Streelman, to help him defend the World Cup of Golf title for the United States at Royal Melbourne in Australia on Nov. 21-24.

Kuchar and Gary Woodland became the first U.S. team to win the title in 11 years when they beat Justin Rose and Ian Poulter of England by two strokes two years ago on the Blackstone Course at Mission Hills Country Club in Haiku, China.

However, tournament rules didn't allow for the Americans to simply send Kuchar and Woodland to defend the title in what is now a biennial event after being played every year from 1953 to 2009, other than 1986.

The two spots on the team for each country go to the highest players in the World Golf Rankings who want to play in the event, so Kuchar had to wait until the top three U.S. players (Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker) turned down the opportunity before he was assured a spot on the team.

Then he began asking other ranked players if they wanted to join him, but he was turned down by the likes of Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson, Nick Watney, Billy Haas and Rickie Fowler.

Actually, it's a tough sell because the event in Australia will finish four days before Thanksgiving.

Kuchar got down to Streelman, No. 37. Streelman had his best season on the PGA Tour in 2013, winning the Tampa Bay Classic, finishing second in the Players Championship, third at the RBC Heritage and placing 13th in the regular-season FedEx Cup standings.

The U.S. historically dominates the World Cup, claiming 24 titles since the inaugural event in 1953 when it was called the Canada Cup. However, the win by Kuchar and Woodland was the first for the U.S.A. since Tiger Woods and David Duval prevailed in 2000 in Argentina.

--Lydia Ko, the 16-year-old sensation from New Zealand, announced on Twitter that she turned pro.

Ko, who won the CN Women's Canadian Open on the LPGA Tour each of the past two years, petitioned the tour for membership because she does not meet the minimum age requirement of 18.

Ranked No. 5 in the world, Ko announced her decision in a video she made with Israel Dagg, who plays for New Zealand's famed All Blacks rugby team. She posted on Twitter: "made a monumental decision today with a little help from my @AllBlacks friend @Izzy_Dagg #LOVEGolf."

During the video, Ko and Dagg play a round of golf in which he repeatedly asks to be the first to know when she decides to turn pro. She keeps putting him off, but finally says near the end of the video, "OK, I'll do it. I'll turn pro."

When Dagg offers to be her caddie, she tell him: "It will be a full-time gig, though. You might have to leave the All Blacks."

Ko posted nine top-10 finishes in 14 starts against professionals in the past year, including her second victory in Canada and another in the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open in February.

In January 2012, Ko, then 14, became the youngest person to win an event on a pro tour when she captured the Bing Lee Samsung Women's New South Wales Open on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour.

Later in 2012, after turning 15, she became the youngest winner on the LPGA Tour with the first of her two victories in Canada.

On the video, Ko indicates that her first event as a professional will be the CME Group Titleholders, the final event of the LPGA Tour season, Nov. 21-24 at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla.

--Paul McGinley, captain of the European team for the Ryder Cup next year at Gleneagles Resort in Scotland, announced that he will make public his three captain's picks Tuesday, Sept. 2, one day later than planned, at Wentworth Club outside London.

McGinley was planning to make the announcement Monday, a day after the conclusion of the Italian Open, the final tournament that counts in the European points standings.

However, several potential European team members figure to be playing at TPC Boston in the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second round of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs, which ends Monday because of Labor Day.

"Realistically, I think (the postponement) will have minimal effect, but out of respect for any players involved, I want to allow them to finish that tournament before I call them with news, one way or another," McGinley said. "I'm also delighted that the announcement is going to be at Wentworth Club, an iconic venue in the world of golf and one also with a rich history in terms of the Ryder Cup itself."

Tom Watson, captain of the United States team, also plans to announce his captain's picks Sept. 2.

--Joost Luiten of the Netherlands was forced to hit one shot in first round of the BMW Masters in Shanghai, the first event of the European Tour's Final Series, before withdrawing because of a right shoulder injury.

Luiten, a 27-year-old has two wins this season and was 11th in the Race to Dubai standings, made the move because a new rule that requires players to tee it up in two of the first three playoff events to be eligible for the finale, the DP World Golf Championship-Dubai.

Luiten, who injured his shoulder while working out at the gym, said he thought about using a putter for his only shot, but he used his driver and hit a shot right down the middle but only about 120 yards at Lake Malaren Golf Club.

By playing one shot and then withdrawing, Luiten kept first alternate Justin Walters of South Africa on the sidelines. Walters was No. 67 in the point standings and barely missed qualifying for the tournament.

Walters, who made the trip in hopes of getting into the tournament, was heard to say as Luiten went to the first tee: "I can't watch this."

Luiten apologized to Walters and shook hands with Luke Donald and Miguel Angel Jimenez, who were supposed to be his playing partners, before heading back to the Netherlands to have an MRI exam on the shoulder.

Donald seemed to be critical of the Euro Tour in a series of comments on Twitter about the incident.

"Strange scenario 2day, paired w/ Joost Luiten, he hit drive off 1st then withdrew w/ shoulder injury, that 1 shot meant event counted 4 him," Donald tweeted.

" ... If that rule wasn't in affect then Joost would have withdrawn prior to event and (Walters) would have got to play this weeks event. Can't blame Joost -- new rule forced his hand."

Luiten hopes to be able to play this week in the WGC-HSBC Champions, also in Shanghai, and/or the Turkish Airlines Open next week at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course in Antalya, Turkey.

--Attorneys for Vijay Singh and the PGA Tour filed arguments before Judge Eileen Bransten in the New York Supreme Court's Commercial Division.

Singh is suing the tour because of what his lawyers wrote was "reckless administration and implementation of its anti-doping program." The PGA Tour filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

In an article on SportsIllustrated.cnn.com in January, Singh admitted that he used Ultimate Spray, which contains the substance IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) which was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the PGA Tour at the time.

Singh was later absolved of the violation when WADA issued a statement stipulating that taken in such small amounts, IGF-1 was not a violation unless it resulted in a positive test. Singh never failed a drug test.

In the motion to dismiss, the PGA Tour cited Singh's membership agreement, which stipulates his only avenue for relief resulting from a doping violation is via an arbitration hearing, which was canceled following the WADA announcement, and the "well-established doctrine of judicial non-interference in the affairs of voluntary, private associations, such as the Tour."

PGA Tour policy is to avoid comment on ongoing litigation, and Singh's lawyers made no comment.
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