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Weir makes International cut as wild-card pick

8/13/2007 - Golf Mike Weir

TULSA, Okla. -- Canada's biggest golf tournament will have its biggest star.

Mike Weir was added to the Presidents Cup team as a wild-card
pick by International team captain Gary Player on Monday, giving
the event a boost as it goes to Canada for the first time.

"He's a terrific team member," Player said. "And being played
in Canada, if we didn't have a Canadian in my team and playing in
Canada, I can assure you, the series would be quite flat among the
Canadian people. Mike is a hero in his country, deservedly so."

Player also used a captain's pick on Nick O'Hern, the only
player to beat Tiger Woods twice in the Accenture Match Play Championship.

U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus took Lucas Glover, who was bumped out
of the top 10 in the standings when Woody Austin finished second at
Southern Hills; and Hunter Mahan, who has not finished out of the
top 25 all summer.

The Presidents Cup will be played Sept. 27-30 at Royal Montreal.
The Americans hold a 4-1-1 edge against an International team that
is for every country outside Europe. They won 18½-15½ two years ago
in Virginia when Chris DiMarco holed a 15-foot birdie putt to beat
Stuart Appleby on the final hole of the final singles match.

Weir has not won since the 2004 Nissan Open, and he has spent
much of the last two seasons recovering from a nagging neck injury
and revamping his swing to take stress off his back. He finished in
the top 20 at all three majors going into the PGA Championship, but tweaked his
neck at Firestone a week before the PGA, then opened with a 77 at
Southern Hills and missed the cut.

"I'm sure the Canadian people are going to be relieved,"
Player said. "I continually had questions every week, 'Are you
putting Mike, are you putting him in?' It's going to enhance the
event in Canada."

Weir said he was on "pins and needles" over the weekend,
wondering if Player would choose him.

"It was tough the last couple of weeks," Weir said. "I ran
into a little bit of bad luck, pulling a neck muscle at Firestone.
I always thought highly of the Presidents Cup. I felt like
sometimes I was maybe trying too hard. Now that Gary made me a
selection, maybe I'll relax and play some good golf."

Weir has an 8-6-0 record in three previous trips to the
Presidents Cup.

Ten players earned their spots on both teams through PGA Tour
earnings (U.S. team) and the world rankings (International).

PGA champion Woods led U.S. qualifying for the fourth
straight year, followed by Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson,
Charles Howell III, David Toms, Scott Verplank, Steve Stricker,
Stewart Cink and Austin.

Ernie Els, who missed the last Presidents Cup recovering from
knee surgery, led International team qualifying. Joining him are
Adam Scott, Vijay Singh, Geoff Ogilvy, Rory Sabbatini, K.J. Choi,
Retief Goosen, Angel Cabrera, Trevor Immelman and Appleby, whose tie for 12th at Southern Hills gave him just enough points to
qualify.

Stephen Ames of Trinidad & Tobago, who lives in Calgary and is a
Canadian citizen, could have earned a spot on the team by finishing
fourth at the PGA Championship. He played in the final group with
Woods and started out two shots behind until fading to a 76.

Ames finished 16th in the standings, while Weir was 20th.

But even Ames has said he is more of an adopted Canadian, and
that Weir was the player who could drive interest in the matches.

It will be the first team for Glover, whose lone PGA Tour
victory came two years ago at Disney. He was in good shape to make
the Ryder Cup team last year until he put too much pressure on
himself to make the team and didn't earn a single point the final
four months.

Mahan turned his season around with a 63 during U.S. Open
qualifying, and he hasn't stopped.

He won the Travelers Championship in Hartford for his first PGA
Tour victory, got into contention the next three weeks (including
the British Open) and moved up to No. 14 in the standings.

"If there's been a player who has played better, a young player
who's played better in the last six months, I don't know who it
is," Nicklaus said.

Player thought about Andres Romero, the 26-year-old Argentine
who nearly won the British Open and captured his first European
Tour victory a week later in Germany. It would have given Cabrera a
Spanish-speaking partner.

But it was hard to argue with his selection of O'Hern.

"I'd obviously love another crack at Tiger," O'Hern said. "He's the No. 1 player in the world for a reason, and I think
everyone would love to have that challenge. That's why we play the
game, to play against the best players in the world."

O'Hern has been making his U.S. base at Isleworth outside
Orlando, Fla., where Woods has lived since turning pro.

"I see him from time to time out on the driving range," O'Hern
said. "We sort of go about our business. He's pretty intense when
he practices, so I leave him alone and vice versa. We get along
just fine. It's probably a good thing I don't play with him,
because then I'd find out how really good he is."