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Golf Roundup: Toms, Couples among possible Ryder Cup captains

The SportsXchange

No sooner had the smoke cleared after the latest disaster for United States golf at the Ryder Cup at Medinah, there was talk about who might captain the American side in the 2014 matches at Gleneagles in Scotland.

David Toms is said to be on the short list along with Jeff Sluman, Scott Verplank and Fred Couples, who has led the U.S. to victories over the International team in the last two Presidents Cup and will lead the Americans again next year at Muirfield Village.

"I'm not sure exactly what the process is," Toms said. "I don't see myself politicking for that job. You either get in on your own merit or you don't. I just hope I get that opportunity.

"It's one of the highest honors in golf."

Toms might want to talk to Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal about that.

Love has been second-guessed by the critics since the U.S. blew a 10-6 lead on Sunday and lost to the Europeans for the seventh time in the last nine Ryder Cups, 14 1/2-13 1/2, at Medinah.

Olazabal has withdrawn his name from future Ryder Cup consideration and called his experience "torture" even though his team won.

Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland and Paul McGinley of Ireland, two of Olazabal's four assistants in Medinah, are among those considered top candidates for the Europeans.

The announcements for 2014 are expected in the next few months.

--South Africa will be host to the second richest tournament in golf in next year, but tournament organizers are disappointed that they were unable to secure the World Golf Championship status they were seeking.

The plan is for the Tournament of Hope, which will have total prize money of $8.5 million, to be staged in South Africa for 10 years. It is co-sanctioned by the International Federation of PGA Tours.

"It's (the Tournament of Hope) something that has been discussed by the federation for several years now," said Ty Votaw, the PGA Tour's vice president of international affairs.

"But in light of where it is in the schedule, it's difficult to make it a World Golf Championship. But it's something that's recognized by the federation. All the tours are putting it on their schedules."

The purse puts the event ahead of the four majors and on a par with the money offered at the four WGC events. Only the Players Championship, at $9.5 million, is richer.

The tournament is sanctioned by the International Federation of PGA Tours and the Sunshine Tour of South Africa, but its December date will add to the glut of tournaments around the world near the end of the year.

Sunshine Tour officials said last year that it would be a new WGC event and offer prize money of $10 million, which would make it the world's richest.

--The Champions Tour will return to the Atlanta area next year for the first time since 2000 with the Greater Gwinnett Championship on April 19-21 at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Ga.

The $1.8 million event will be played the week after the Masters.

"We have been working on a return to the Atlanta market for a couple of years and it's exciting to have it come to fruition," said president Mike Stevens of the Champions Tour.

"The current list of Champions Tour players entertained the Atlanta-area fans with some exciting golf at TPC Sugarloaf in the past (on the PGA Tour), and they're anxious to return to a city and a golf course they've enjoyed so much."

The last Champions Tour event in the Atlanta area was the final Nationwide Championship at the Golf Club of Georgia in Alpharetta, where Hale Irwin successfully defended his title.

--Having been vanquished again by the Europeans in the Ryder Cup, the Americans turned their attention to the 2013 Presidents Cup with Captains' Media Day at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.

It marked the beginning of the one-year countdown to the event, which will be played Oct. 3-6 at Muirfield Village.

Captain Nick Price of the International Team announced that Shigeki Maruyama, Mark McNulty and Tony Johnstone will be his assistants for the event.

"Choosing my three captain's assistants was really very easy for me," said Price, who played for the International Team five times. "I grew up playing golf back home with Tony Johnstone and Mark McNulty. The three of us have enjoyed a friendship and rivalry that has lasted more than 40 years, and having played on many teams together during that time, they were an obvious choice for me.

"Maruyama-san was an inspiration to all of us in every Presidents Cup team he played on. His enthusiasm, dogged competitiveness and incredible team spirit are things I will never forget."

Captain Fred Couples, who led the United States to victories in the last two Presidents Cups at Harding Park in 2009 and Royal Melbourne last year, said Jay Haas will be an assistant for the third consecutive time.

The captains will have three assistants for the first time, and Couples said he will announce his other aides in the coming months.

"Jay has really been my right-hand man these past two Presidents Cups, and I know I couldn't do my job as captain without him," said Couples, who will try to pass Jack Nicklaus (2-1-1) as the captain with the most victories in the Presidents Cup.

"Jay has been one of my closest friends for many years. I rely on his leadership qualities, organizational skills and ability to help bring the team together to play their best but also have a great time in the process. I'm really looking forward to next year's event, and I know Jay feels the same way as we look to make it 3-0 for the U.S. Team."

Couples offered an assistant's spot to Nicklaus, who owns Muirfield Village, but was turned down and also has made overtures to basketball great Michael Jordan.

The U.S. holds a 7-1-1 edge in the Presidents Cup.

--After helping Europe retain the Ryder Cup again, Luke Donald would like to see that event count toward the 13 tournaments required for membership on the European Tour.

When he left Medinah after the Euro victory, Donald still had three events to play on the Euro Tour to retain his membership.

"It's one of the busiest weeks we play all year, hence we'd like to get the European Tour to count it as a counting event," Donald said. "We actually do quite a lot of work that week."

Donald said he plans to take up the argument with officials of the European Tour, which has a financial stake in the Ryder Cup.

Even though the American proceeds from the Ryder Cup go only to the PGA of America, the PGA Tour long has counted the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup toward its minimum 15 events for membership.

It's not an official event, and players don't get any money or world ranking points from it.

--Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium, the only Ryder Cup rookie on the European team that retained the Cup two weeks ago at Medinah, has taken special temporary membership in the PGA Tour.

That means he can take unlimited sponsor's exemptions in the Fall Series and the other postseason events sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

Colsaerts is in the field this week for the Frys.com Open at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, Calif.

The Belgian is the ninth member of the European team with some form of PGA Tour membership. Martin Kaymer of Germany, who scored the winning point for the Euros at Medinah, is the only one who is not a member.

Colsaerts has earned $652,886 in nine PGA Tour events this season, which would put him 119th on the money list. If his earnings are better than the player ranked No. 125 on the money list at the end of the season, he would lock up his card for 2013.
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