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Practice rounds under way for Thursday's start of Presidents Cup

Prestigious tournament to include Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson

Practice rounds for the 2009 Presidents Cup got under way Tuesday at Harding Park Golf Course near San Francisco's Lake Merced.

The international men's golf competition, held every other year, consists of two teams of top-ranked professional golfers, one representing the United States and the other made up of top golfers from around the world, excluding Europe.

This year, veteran professional golfers Fred Couples and Greg Norman are serving as team captains. Big names on the U.S. team include Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

From Thursday to Sunday, members of each 12-person team will compete in various matches, including foursomes and singles play, to accumulate points for their teams.

The tournament is bringing fans and media from around the world to San Francisco and will mean road closures and large crowds in the area.

San Francisco is the second U.S. city to host the event since the Cup began in 1994, organizers said. Other stateside matches have been played at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia.

During the inaugural Presidents Cup, former President Gerald Ford served as honorary chairman. Since then, many world leaders have served as honorary chairs of the event, including presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill

Clinton and George W. Bush, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard and South African President Thabo Mbeki.

President Barack Obama is the honorary chairman for this year's competition and locals are watching closely to see if Obama will make an appearance at the event. So far Obama's press office has not confirmed plans for a San Francisco visit.

European golfers do not participate in the Presidents Cup, instead competing against the U.S. in the Ryder Cup on alternate years.

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