POTOMAC - In the wake of much-publicized cries of poor sportsmanship surrounding the United States' emotional Ryder Cup victory last fall, U.S. captain Ken Venturi said he is planning to "show the world what tradition and dedication ... to the game is all about" at this year's Presidents Cup matches in October.
In a news conference at the Kemper Insurance Open yesterday, the veteran CBS analyst also said he is "heavily considering" retirement at the end of this season, but is currently focused on retaining control of the match-play event that pits the Americans against the best world players not eligible for the Ryder Cup.
Venturi said he had previously been pondering retirement, but the death of his wife, Beau, to cancer in 1998 left him "needing something to do," so he continued in his television role. Now, with his contract due to expire at the end of the year, he is weighing his options again."'I'm taking a good hard look at what I do now," said Venturi, who plans to announce a decision at the WGC-NEC Invitational in Akron, Ohio, in August.
Venturi will choose two players for the Presidents Cup team at the end of the PGA Championship. They will join the top 10 qualifiers on a points list that has been kept the last two years.
Though Venturi said momentum at the time will be the biggest factor in his choices, he also said players with experience and leadership qualities in international competition will earn an extra look. Specifically, Fred Couples, who stroked the winning putt on the 17th hole in the 1996 President's Cup but is currently 36th on the points list, is someone that Venturi would consider.
Both teams hope to overcome the ill will that marked the end of the last Ryder Cup in Brookline, Mass., when U.S. players stormed the 17th green after Justin Leonard's 45-foot putt regained the Cup for the Americans. The celebrations occurred directly in the line of Jose Maria Olazabal's putt to tie the match, which he missed."[International team captain] Peter Thompson and I have had some meetings and we are on the same channel," Venturi said. "If there's play behind the teams, no one will go out on the green. We are going to prevent that from happening again."
Stuart Appleby wasn't the only member of his group gathering attention yesterday. Though the Australian's 64 was the low round of the day, his playing partner, John Daly, boomed drives and threw in a few putts to shoot a 67. ... History doesn't bode well for leader Steve Lowery, because the 54-hole Kemper leader has only held that lead until the end once in the last 10 years. That happened last year, when Rich Beem went wire-to-wire for his victory.