- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2005

LAKE MANASSAS, Va. — Vijay Singh addressed the “Tiger Who?” incident yesterday and distanced himself from any simmering controversy with the world’s No. 1 player.

In the 2000 Presidents Cup — the last time the event was played at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club — Singh’s caddie showed up with “Tiger Who?” embroidered on his hat. Apparently, Tiger Woods hasn’t forgotten. During Tuesday’s press conference, Woods said he felt disrespected at the time by Singh’s caddie, Paul Tesori.

Singh, the world’s No. 2 golfer, dismissed the episode as ancient news.

“I didn’t even realize my caddie at that time put on that hat until I got out there,” Singh said. “I think the issue was in 2000, and it’s 2005 now. And it’s five years away, and it’s gone. I think I’ve forgotten about it as everybody else has forgotten about it but [the media]. So I think the quicker you guys forget about it, everybody won’t want to talk about it, so let’s just forget about it, all right?”

A Woods-Singh showdown in singles play Sunday certainly would spice up this tournament, especially if Woods asks U.S. captain Jack Nicklaus to match them up.

“Tiger asked me to give him Greg Norman [in 1998], and I gave him Greg Norman,” Nicklaus said. “Tiger asked me to give him Ernie Els [in 2003], and I gave him Ernie. If Tiger asks me to give him Vijay, I’ll try to accommodate.”

Woods said Tuesday he doesn’t want to see the Presidents Cup go the route of the Ryder Cup, where animosity runs on a full tank for both sides. Despite being five years removed from the last Presidents Cup on U.S. soil, Woods’ memory is keen.

“I certainly didn’t appreciate it,” Woods said. “I thought it wasn’t real respectful. I know he tried to do it in fun, but I didn’t take it that way. I went out there and beat him 2 and 1 [in Sunday’s singles], so that’s my response to it.”

Leonard loses bet

Justin Leonard was the last member of the U.S. team to arrive for the press conference and sat silently as questions were asked and answers given.

There was a reason the 1997 British Open champion was mute: Money was on the line. Leonard, one of two captain’s choices, bet Phil Mickelson $100 he could go the entire interview session without saying a word.

Leonard was well on his way to collecting Mickelson’s money — he made it halfway through the Q&A session — until Lefty pulled a fast one and forced Leonard to compare his memories two years ago in South Africa at the Presidents Cup to last year’s Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills in Michigan.

“Justin was talking about that last night over here on the bus about the difference. Go ahead: Why don’t you tell him what you were saying last night?” Mickelson said.

Leonard rolled his eyes and looked irritated that Mickelson bent the rules of the bet to make him speak.

“I just lost a hundred bucks,” Leonard said. “I bet Phil I could come here and not say a word. Well, I didn’t play Oakland Hills, so my memories go back two years. Thanks a lot.”

Funk happy to be here

Fred Funk, a Takoma Park native, undoubtedly will be one of the crowd favorites this week in his second Presidents Cup appearance.

“Being so close to home is a little extra special for me,” said Funk, who has earned $2.6 million this year on the PGA Tour, including a prestigious win at the Players Championship. “I still pinch myself to think what I’ve done and where I’ve come from — the University of Maryland golf coach to representing the United States on the Presidents Cup here at RTJ is pretty neat. So I’m very conscious of it, and it feels good to come home and achieve a goal that I set for myself last year.”

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