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It needs one of the most distinguished characters in golf breaking a club over his knee in despair.

“That really was embarrassing for me,” Price said.

Yes, that was him.

The Presidents Cup in South Africa was so tight in 2003 that Price knew every point _ every half-point _ could be the difference. Playing against Kenny Perry, he twice rallied from a three-hole deficit. On the final hole at Fancourt, Price missed a short birdie putt to halve the match and snapped the putter in two as he walked off the green.

No apologies were necessary, though he still offers them.

“A freak reaction,” Price said. “But I’ll tell you what it’s turned into. A guy phoned me from South Africa and said, `Tell us about the time you walked off the green and broke your putter in front of (captains) Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.’ It was totally unintentional. But it showed how much I cared.”

Price still cares enough to challenge PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem over the points structure.

Unlike the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup, there are five matches (instead of four) in the team sessions, and thus 32 points available for the week instead of 28. The idea is to have more players on the course. Nice thought, but is this supposed to be like Little League with the emphasis on participation?

Price realizes the Americans have greater depth. Playing for fewer points gives him a better chance for a close contest. Even when the Americans had better players in the Ryder Cup a few generations ago, it always was close because there were fewer points available and Europe could hide its weaker players.

Finchem rejected the proposal presented to him by Price and former captain Greg Norman.

“I understand his thinking,” Finchem said a month ago. “But I think we have a nice history that’s built up already in the Presidents Cup. I increasingly feel like unless it’s broke, don’t really mess with it. And the Presidents Cup has been very, very successful.”

Successful by what measure?

The fact the Americans have lost only once in two decades? That the last three cups haven’t even been close? One more blowout and this will be bordering on a biennial exhibition, if it’s not already.

“I was listening yesterday to the European coverage of their tour, and the guys are already talking about the Ryder Cup next year,” Price said. “Obviously, the Ryder Cup will be there (at Gleneagles). But I wish we could hear that about the Presidents Cup. The only way that’s going to happen is if it’s closely contested.”

Even if that means having players hardly anyone knows.