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Norman, Couples named Pres. Cup captains

Greg Norman, Fred Couples, Presidents Cup
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Greg Norman posed with the President's Cup trophy Tuesday as Fred Couples looked on via satellite from California.

MARANA, Arizona (AP) — Greg Norman put aside his differences with the PGA Tour and agreed to be captain of the International team at the Presidents Cup, joining Fred Couples of the United States as the first captains who have competed in the matches.

It will be held in October 2009 at Harding Park, a public course in San Francisco.

The announcement on Tuesday shifts the Presidents Cup into a modern era of captaincy. Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were captains at the last three competitions, and previous captains included Arnold Palmer, Ken Venturi, Hale Irwin, Peter Thomson and David Graham.

Couples was a natural fit as the face of these matches, which were patterned after the Ryder Cup and began in 1994.

He clinched victory for the Americans in the inaugural year with a spectacular 9-iron from the bunker to 2 feet, and two years later, his 35-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole in the last match secured another win.

In his fourth and final Presidents Cup, he made a 20-foot birdie on the last hole to beat Vijay Singh.

The surprise was Norman, who has been battling with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem for more than a decade over the World Golf Championships and more recently, the tour's finances.

Norman's proposed world tour in 1994 never took root, and Finchem introduced the WGCs a few years later.

"I think what's happened in the past is in the past," Norman said. "If you sit on a board of any company, you don't want to have a friendly board. You need to have some bit of contentious, open discussion because not everybody is going to think exactly the same way. Tim and I have an open discussion about certain situations with the game of golf, whether it's personal, whether it's business.

"The issues are always going to be there. Those issues have got nothing to do with the Presidents Cup."

Norman said Finchem asked him to be International captain at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, and he consulted Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Adam Scott.

His biggest issue will be finding a way to win.

The United States leads the series, 5-1-1, with the only International victory coming in 1998 in Australia. The tie came in South Africa in 2003, the first year Nicklaus and Player were captains together.

Tour officials then were looking at Couples and Norman as the next captains, but decided on Nicklaus and Player again in 2005 as a way to settle the tie. The Americans won the next year, then won again in 2007 at Royal Montreal.

Couples is one of the most popular players in golf and figures to be the quintessential players' captain.

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