South Africa Will Host 2002 Event
Coates, David, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
GAINESVILLE, Va. - After months of speculation, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem announced yesterday that the 2002 Presidents Cup will be played in South Africa.
Finchem was joined by Ngconde Balfour, minister for Sport and Recreation of South Africa, and Louis Martin, the Chief Executive of the Southern Africa Tour, when he announced that the Links Golf Course at Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate in George will be the site of the 2002 Presidents Cup. The event's dates will be Nov. 7-10. Fancourt is four hours northeast of Cape Town.
It will mark the second time since the biennial competition's inception in 1994 that it will be staged away from Robert Trent Jones Golf Club. Royal Melbourne in Australia was the site of the 1998 Presidents Cup.
Finchem explained the reasoning for going to South Africa in 1998: "The Presidents Cup has as its mission several objectives: to involve heads of state around the world in golf competition so as to bring a worldwide focus on our sport in a very positive way; to raise significant dollars for charity to be distributed by the players; and to allow all the players around the world the opportunity to play in this type of team competition.
"In order to meet all of those objectives it's important that we have the championship be available to fans in different parts of the world."
Three players from this year's International team - South Africans Ernie Els and Retief Goosen and Zimbabwe's Nick Price - are from southern Africa.
Finchem's announcement officially began speculation as to which American will become the first to pass up an opportunity to represent his country in an international match.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, virtual locks for the 2002 U.S. team, weren't ready to make any commitments to traveling to South Africa when asked about the possibility last week.
Woods points out that players like he and Mickelson would probably qualify for Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams for the next 15 years and would be asked to travel overseas for half of those years.
"That's asking a lot," Woods said. "And then if you throw in what we're trying to do now with Olympics and now the World Golf Championships, it's asking a lot of the players. …