Illness forces Norman to miss out on Presidents Cup

LAKE MANASSAS, VA. — LAKE MANASSAS, Va. -- The inaugural Presidents Cup took an unexpected blow yesterday when it was announced that Greg Norman -- the player for whom this event was conceived -- had withdrawn while being treated in Houston for a gastrointestinal condition.

Norman, the second-ranked player in the world and the event's leading draw, recently underwent surgery for infected hemorrhoids. But, according to Dr. Richard Andrassy, a Houston physician who is treating Norman, the player's current condition is unrelated to the surgery.


"He has glorified flu-like symptoms," Andrassy said. "It's nothing serious. The major reason he can't play is that he's weak and dehydrated. He's lost 11 pounds in the last 10 days."

Norman was expected to join Nick Price of Zimbabwe, the world's No. 1-ranked player and the tour's leading money-winner this year, to give the international team a decided edge over the U.S. team in the three-day competition that begins Friday at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.


"Obviously it's going to play a major factor in having to recalculate the decisions I have discussed [with the team]," said dTC David Graham, the nonplaying captain of the team made up of players from the Southern Hemisphere. "Obviously, this is a major disappointment."

Norman has been replaced by Bradley Hughes, a 27-year-old Australian ranked 117th in the world.

Said Price: "I'm really disappointed, but not any more disappointed than Greg is. He was very excited about playing in this event."

Until the Presidents Cup was announced earlier this year, Price and Norman had been shut out of world-class match-play team competition. The Ryder Cup, which is played every two years, includes teams from the United States and Europe.

Graham said that he learned of Norman's condition Friday and was in contact with him again Monday after Norman went to Houston for evaluation. He is being treated there as an outpatient. Norman also has withdrawn from two subsequent European tournaments, Graham said.

In a letter to Graham, Norman said, "It is of great disappointment that I have to withdraw from the Presidents Cup for medical reasons. After being involved from the outset with the PGA Tour and my good friend, Nick Price, I truly feel hollow not being with you. . . . I want to wish both teams and team captains involved the very best for a successful tournament."

What effect Norman's absence will have on the success of this first-time event remains to be seen, but the 39-year-old Australian was certainly its marquee attraction and would have been the focal point of CBS' coverage this weekend.

"I wouldn't want to say that one of the two best players in the world not playing in an event doesn't have an impact -- that's silly," said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. "But we have a lot of great players in the field. This will still be a great competition, unfortunately one played without Greg Norman."



When: Friday through Sunday.

B8Where: Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, Lake Manassas, Va.

What: A 12-man team representing the United States and an international team composed of players from the Southern Hemisphere will play five four-ball and foursome matches Friday and Saturday, and 12 individual match-play competitions Sunday.

Who: U.S. team features Fred Couples, playing captain Hale Irwin, Phil Mickelson and Corey Pavin. International team includes Nick Price, David Frost and Vijay Singh. TV: Friday, ESPN, 8 a.m. to noon, 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, chs. 11, 9, 3-6 p.m.; Sunday, chs. 11, 9, 2-6 p.m.

Tickets: $125 for grounds and parking. Available at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club only and will not be sold after today. Call (800) 404-7887 for information.