Nicklaus, Player in heated exchange over autographs

Updated: September 21, 2005, 1:06 AM ET
Reuters

GAINESVILLE, Va. -- Presidents Cup captains Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player engaged in an animated exchange over players signing autographs during practice rounds at the Presidents Cup on Tuesday.

Nicklaus, who is captaining the U.S. team for a third time, confronted Player on the driving range and accused the International team captain of breaking an agreement to not allow players to sign autographs on the golf course.

World No. 2 Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen and the International team in general were seen signing autographs throughout the day as they practiced at the Robert Trent Golf Course. Later, some U.S. team members also signed for fans.

After talking with Player, Nicklaus told fans around the driving range -- as he was signing autographs -- that some of his players thought the Internationals where making them look "like jerks," said Nicklaus.

In three previous Presidents Cups played at the Robert Trent, the Internationals are without a win, including a 21½-10½ drubbing in 2000.

The European team drove the U.S. to distraction at last year's Ryder Cup in Oakland Hills near Detroit, signing autographs and mingling with American fans as part of a major charm offensive designed to help diffuse some of the hostility they might face during the event.

The plan worked as the Europeans received a mostly warm welcome from the pro-American crowd as they rolled to record-breaking 18½-9½ victory.