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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release October 18, 2000
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
         DURING OPENING CEREMONIES OF THE 2000 PRESIDENT'S CUP

                      Robert Trent Jones Golf Club
                        Lake Manassas, Virginia

4:58 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Dan; Governor; Commissioner Finchem; Captain Venturi; Captain Thomson and the American International Teams; ladies and gentlemen.

I want to begin by saying how privileged I feel to be the Honorary Chairman of this tournament and to be here on this magnificent fall day, at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, where my friend, Vernon Jordan, and I have spent so many happy days playing golf.

As a gesture of goodwill, I left my clubs home today. (Laughter.) Actually, I offered to play on the American team, but when I had to confess I have never broken 80 on this course -- even from the white tees -- I was immediately rejected, showing how much the world has changed since President Johnson said, "there's one lesson you better learn if you want to be in politics: never go out on a golf course and beat the President." (Laughter.) I keep passing that out, even to strangers, and no one takes it seriously anymore. (Laughter.)

Let me say to all of you, I love the President's Cup. The greatest players from around the world and here in the United States, playing for sheer love of the game and competition, pride of nation, donating their winnings to their favorite charities.

After this year, the four President's Cup competitions will have raised more than $6 million for 100 charities -- to fund schools and hospitals, to fight disease, to teach young people not only the skills, but the sportsmanship of golf. That is the genius of the President's Cup and I thank all of you who are part of that. (Applause.)

If I might, I'd also like to say a word in my capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. I want to thank Captain Venturi and the American team members for wearing the black arm bands in honor of those who perished aboard the USS Cole. I spent the morning with the families of the fallen and injured sailors and their larger Navy family in Norfolk.

Like the golfers here, they come from many different ethnic and religious backgrounds. Like you, they stood for our common humanity and those who want to build a world where we bridge our differences and celebrate our diversity.

When you play in this tournament with honor, and by the rules, respecting the character and ability of your opponents, you show the world, including those rooting hard for you, the way we all ought to live and work. You offer another rebuke, although gentle and gentlemanly, to those who believe our differences are more important than our common humanity.

I ask you to say a little prayer for those folks tonight. This is a tough day for them. Almost all those 17 sailors were very young, just beginning life's journey. But they were proud of what they did -- and what they did and what their successes do today is very important. May God bless them and their families. (Applause.)

Now, as the Honorary Chairman, my first order of business is to declare this tournament officially open. Secondly, I have been informed -- much against my better instincts -- to declare this a no-mulligans zone. (Laughter.) Now, I would like to invite the two captains up here to join me for a presentation and before the Cup.

Thank you very much and God bless you all. (Applause.)

END 5:04 P.M. EDT