What's not to Love?

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

MANASSAS, Va. -- For the better part of 23 months, Davis Love waited for the zinger that never came. Until yesterday.

First, let us refresh your memory, because this is the part that nobody remembers: Presidents Cup, 2003 edition. The Links at Fancourt in George, South Africa. Sunday afternoon singles. Last match. Love versus Robert Allenby. Par-4 18th hole. Love is one-up.

If Love can halve the hole, the United States will win the Presidents Cup for the first time on foreign soil.

The American's ball is positioned about 60 feet from the pin in a good lie, a tight lie, just off the green, short and right. A routine chip shot for a high-end professional. If he can get up and down and match pars with Allenby, it's over.

Love studies his chip shot, takes the club back and ... CHUNK. It travels just a few feet up on to the green and rolls back almost to his feet. A stunned moment later, Allenby has won the hole and Tiger Woods and Ernie Els are headed for a playoff to break a 17-17 deadlock.

Now that's the part everybody remembers.

Woods and Els went back and forth for three holes in the fading light, culminating their gut-wrenching battle with a pair of matching par putts, Woods from 12 feet and Els from six, in virtual darkness.

Unable to continue because of the fading light, the captains, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, conferred and declared the event a draw.

Nobody was more relieved than Woods.

"The reason I didn't want to go in the playoff is because I had beaten Ernie earlier (4 and 3)," Woods said yesterday during preparations for the 2005 Presidents Cup. "So, I've already beaten a top player on their team in his home country and won us a point, and if I go out and lose one hole, nobody's ever going to remember I beat Ernie Els and got a point because I just lost the entire Presidents Cup. So that was a little nerve-racking out there."

Then Woods turned to Love, sitting six feet to his right.

"Thanks, Davis," he said, as the interview room erupted in laughter at the well-aimed dart.

Love didn't miss a beat.

"Finally, somebody said it," Love said.

Viewed through the prism of time, Love shouldn't feel too badly. Inadvertently, he played a key role in elevating the profile of this event. See, the Presidents Cup, just 11 years old now, has been the poor cousin to the Ryder Cup and its 75-year history.

The Ryder Cup has all the legend and all the nastiness that the Presidents Cup lacks. For some reason, the Americans and Europeans don't seem to be able to make nice, while the Americans and the Internationals (all other countries save Europe and the British Isles) get along just fine.

But the events of that Sunday afternoon at Fancourt have taken the Presidents Cup to a new level. It still doesn't share the acrimonious personality of the Ryder Cup, but it proved as riveting a spectacle as anything in sport.

By mutual consent, the playoff provision has been removed from the captains' agreement. A tie will stand.

"We will not have a playoff in this event," Nicklaus said. "We will have a tie and share it if we do the same thing. We felt that all 12 players had played so hard and had such a great event that we would like to see it stay that way."

Many of the players, especially the feisty Internationals, would have preferred to come back on the Monday and finish it.

"I was all for continuing," Australian Stuart Appleby said. "It's highly likely that tie is going to be broken this week."

Peter Lonard had a more practical reason for wishing, in hindsight, that the Cup had continued on Monday.

"It would have saved me a big headache," he said, reflecting on the hangover from the team's final party. "I was all for a Monday finish rather than feel like crap."

We have news for Lonard: There's a good chance for crap in the forecast for one of these teams again this week.


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