October 7, 2009

Rallying Behind Jordan

Team USA caddies write No. 23 on their hats to show support for honorary captain Michael Jordan, who was told not to attend the opening ceremony

Caddie Paul Tesori stands next to Michael Jordan during the first day of play.

Caddie Paul Tesori stands next to Michael Jordan during the first day of play.

SAN FRANCISCO -- On a week like this, no slight is so insignificant that a team won't try to exploit it.

Hence, the curious case of Michael Jordan and the Opening Ceremony of the Presidents Cup -- or more specifically, the case of Jordan's absence from the Opening Ceremony. Although maintaining a visible presence with the American team this week -- including Thursday, when he was zipping around in a golf cart from match-to-match -- the team's honorary captain was conspicuously absent from the proceedings on Wednesday afternoon, and instead opted to play golf down the street at Olympic Club.

As it happened, Jordan's absence was not by choice, but because he was asked not to attend by the PGA Tour. That led the American caddies to all write the No. 23 on their hats on Thursday in a sign of solidarity with the basketball legend.

"Just to show him support more than anything else," said Joe LaCava, the longtime caddie for American captain Fred Couples who is serving as the de facto caddies' captain this week. "He's been our main man all week, so we just wanted to stay with him."

According to a PGA Tour official, Jordan was not banned from the ceremonies outright.

"He had the right to attend, but it was suggested he not be on the stage as part of the team," the official said.

After Thursday's matches, Couples tried to downplay the incident, saying it was his suggestion that Jordan play golf at Olympic instead of attend the ceremony.