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Europeans Haven’t Been Too Gentle

Times Staff Writer

No matter what else happens in Ben Crenshaw’s career, he’s always going to be the Ryder Cup captain of a winning team, even if the anniversary of the U.S. victory at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., is hitting seven years.

It was Crenshaw who famously dug his finger into a table in an emotional interview on that Saturday night, with the U.S. trailing, 10-6, and said he had a good feeling about what would happen in the Sunday singles matches.

He was right.

The biggest last-day comeback in U.S. Ryder Cup history ended with a 14 1/2 -13 1/2 victory, the only U.S. triumph since 1993. Crenshaw knows the team that Tom Lehman sends to Ireland next month will have its hands full.

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“We are a little on the desperate side,” Crenshaw said.

The 54-year-old two-time Masters champion is busy with his course-design business and playing the Champions Tour, but he is keeping an eye on this year’s Ryder Cup team that has four first-time players.

“You never know about young players, how he’s going to do, and some do fantastic and you wouldn’t expect it,” he said.

“But we are going to be the underdog. It’s so unpredictable. The position the U.S. team is in this year, we feel murdered, and we nearly got murdered in 1999.”

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Mark James, the captain of the European team in 1999, did not use three of his players until the Sunday singles, and the U.S. went 6-0 to start the day, with Lehman defeating Lee Westwood in the first match.

“Without that momentum from the start, we wouldn’t have won,” Crenshaw said. “Our backs were against the wall.”

Crenshaw said he is sure Lehman will do a good job.

“I know Tom will inspire the guys in any way he can,” he said. “He could say, ‘Let’s just play loose and go after it.’ ”

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The quote of the week is from Lehman, asked about the importance of the right Ryder Cup team atmosphere: “I’m not talking like, ‘Let’s all sit around and sing ‘Kumbaya,’ I’m talking about people being real.”

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For the U.S. team’s two-day practice at the K Club this week, Lehman sent out threesomes that included Tiger Woods with Jim Furyk and Ryder Cup rookie J.J. Henry. Phil Mickelson was with Chris DiMarco and Vaughn Taylor, another rookie. Chad Campbell, David Toms and rookie Brett Wetterich were in a group. The fourth rookie, Zach Johnson, played with Scott Verplank and Stewart Cink, the two captain’s picks.

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Woods, who has won 11 of the 21 World Golf Championship tournaments he has played, passed $63 million in career earnings with his victory Sunday at the Bridgestone Invitational at Akron, Ohio.

Woods has made $7.65 million in 13 PGA Tour events this year, the third time he has passed $7 million. He has won six times this year, the fourth time he has done that.

His winning percentage in the 198 PGA Tour events he has played is 26.26% (52 victories).

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Woods is in his 406th week ranked No. 1 and his position has never been stronger. His 22.23 ranking points are 13.31 points ahead of No. 2 Mickelson -- the highest total and the largest margin since the Official World Golf Ranking altered its points systems, using 13 weeks of play in place of a year’s worth, on Sept. 1, 2001. Then, Woods’ total as No. 1 was 21.05 and he was 10.25 points ahead of No. 2 Mickelson.

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Dating news: This just in ... Sergio Garcia is dating Greg Norman’s daughter. Garcia, 26, and Morgan-Leigh Norman, 23, were an item at the Bridgestone Invitational. Garcia used to date tennis star Martina Hingis.

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Ratings news: Woods’ fourth consecutive victory, at the Bridgestone, drew a 5.9 rating Sunday on CBS and was the highest-rated fourth round of a PGA Tour event this year, besides the majors.

It was up 18% over last year’s 5.0 rating and up 103% from the 2.9 rating in 2004.

The final-round telecast on CBS of the Masters (8.4) was the highest-rated fourth round of any tournament this year.

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Big-hitter J.B. Holmes, who ranks second behind Bubba Watson in driving distance on the PGA Tour with an average of 318 yards, set a record at the Bridgestone Invitational when he averaged 350 yards off the tee for all four rounds of the tournament. The old record lasted about 15 months, a 347.3-yard average by Scott Hend at the 2005 Colonial.

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Meanwhile, Allen Doyle’s record is intact. Jim Rutledge has made $224,684 on the Nationwide Tour and that’s probably going to be enough for him to make the PGA Tour next year -- as a 47-year-old rookie. Doyle also was 47, but a few months older than Rutledge, when he became the oldest rookie on the PGA Tour in 1996.

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Michelle Wie has hired caddie Andrew Lano for two men’s events -- the Omega European Masters on the European Tour, Sept. 7-10, in Switzerland and the 84 Lumber Classic on the PGA Tour the following week in Farmington, Pa., according to Golfweek. Lano has worked for Kenny Perry.

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The seventh Donald E. Schultze tournament to benefit the youth sports programs of Hawaiian Gardens will be played Oct. 16 at Lakewood Country Club. Details: (562) 420-2641.

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This week

All times Pacific

PGA TOUR

Deutsche Bank Championship

* When: Friday-Monday.

* Where: TPC Boston

(7,415 yards, par 71).

* TV: USA (Friday, 2-4 p.m.; Saturday, Noon-3 p.m.) and Channel 7 (Sunday, 2-4 p.m.; Monday, Noon-3 p.m.)

* 2005 winner: Olin Browne.

* Next week: The Canadian Open in Ancaster.

LPGA TOUR

State Farm Classic

* When: Today-Sunday.

* Where: The Rail Golf Club

(6,649 yards, par 72), Springfield, Ill.

* TV: ESPN2 (Friday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.) and ESPN (Saturday, Noon-1:30 p.m.)

* 2005 winner: Pat Hurst.

* Next week: The John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic in Broken Arrow, Okla.

CHAMPIONS TOUR

First Tee Open

* When: Friday-Sunday.

* Where: Pebble Beach Golf Links (6,822 yards, par 72) and Del Monte Golf Course (6,357 yards, par 72), Pebble Beach.

* TV: The Golf Channel (Friday and Saturday, 3-5:30 p.m.) and Channel 4 (Sunday, Noon-3 p.m.).

* 2005 winner: Hale Irwin.

* Next week: Georgia-Pacific Grand Champions Championship, for players 60 and over, in Ball Ground, Ga.

Source: Associated Press


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