SAN FRANCISCO – In a show of support for Michael Jordan by the American players, the caddies for the United States team have "23" written on their hats today. Why does Jordan need the players' support?
It seems they think Jordan, an assistant captain, might have been purposely excluded from Wednesday's opening ceremony. On Wednesday, a PGA Tour official told me and two other reporters that Jordan was leaving Harding Park at 12:30 p.m. so as not to draw attention away from the players and the opening ceremony. The official said that Jordan wanted the focus to be on the golfers.
But that might not be exactly the way it played out. Jordan has been getting a lot of attention in San Francisco, more than many of the players, and maybe more than the Tour was comfortable with. A source close to the team said the Tour did not want Jordan on the stage with the U.S. squad, and that Fred Couples and his players were angry that Jordan was left out. The source also said that PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem apologized to the players at their hotel on Wednesday night.
Jordan has also been called out by the city this week for smoking cigars on the course. Harding Park is owned by the city of San Francisco, and smoking is not allowed on the grounds.
While Jordan says that he plays golf about six days a week, his primary role as an assistant captain has been motivational. Good friends with Tiger Woods, Jordan has spent a lot of time this week with Sean O'Hair, also a close friend of Woods, building up his confidence and trying to help him believe in his abilities.