South Africa's afterglow was still discernable at the PGA, where the top-rated American players eyed the Presidents Cup points list to see if they would qualify on points or squeak in as captain's picks. "I'd have to really mess up not to make it," said Stewart Cink, who started the week ranked eighth among the American pros, "but I wanted to play well enough to feel safe." (Cink finished 28th at Baltusrol and made the team.) Ted Purdy, on the other hand, had seen his chances fade the week before when he withdrew from the International to attend an ultrasound exam in Phoenix with his wife, Arlene, who is pregnant with their second child. He dropped to 14th in the final standings. "Family's first and golf is a distant fourth or fifth," Purdy said.
Even John Daly, whose aversion to a coat and tie has discouraged previous captains from knocking on the door of his RV, spoke of his desire to play in Virginia. Smoking a cigarette in the Baltusrol parking lot after a second-round 69, Daly said, "Hey, I'd even go to the dinners." But Daly probably didn't impress Nicklaus the next day when he damaged his putter, causing him to putt with an L wedge while shooting a 78.
The jockeying ended on Monday, when Nicklaus and Player announced their captains' picks. Nicklaus chose Justin Leonard and Fred Couples, who were 11th and 17th, respectively, on the points list. Player picked Peter Lonard and Trevor Immelman, who were ranked 11th and 22nd. But even as they looked forward to the sixth Presidents Cup, the captains were still celebrating the fifth.
"Would I like to see every event end in a dead tie?" Nicklaus asked after his visit to Baltusrol. "No, I think people would get tired of that. Anyway, we all want to win. If we didn't, nobody would watch us." Again, he said, you probably had to have been at Fancourt to understand how the planets and stars and Outeniqua Mountains had somehow aligned on one November weekend to produce the perfect Presidents Cup. "Even President Mbeki wasn't sure what it was all about for a few days, but he was ecstatic by the time it ended."
Nicklaus summed up: "He got it."
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U.S. versus Them
The Internationals won't have Ernie Els this time--he's recuperating from knee surgery--but their depth makes them a slight favorite at Lake Manassas. Here are the final rosters.