Friday, October 25, 2002

Sutton chosen to be U.S. Ryder Cup captain



By Larry Lage
The Associated Press

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. - Hal Sutton gets emotional just thinking about seeing the American flag and hearing the national anthem during the Ryder Cup.

As the U.S. captain in 2004, Sutton's mission will be to instill such passion into his talent-laden team.

Sutton was introduced as captain on Thursday by The PGA of America at Oakland Hills Country Club in suburban Detroit, where the next competition between the United States and Europe will be played.

He said he's disturbed that the United States has lost six of the last nine matches, including last month, when Europe won by the largest margin in 17 years.

"We possess all kinds of talent," Sutton said. "I don't know what the missing ingredient is, but we do need to be more passionate."

Curtis Strange, who captained the U.S. team this year, was criticized for putting his two top players - Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods - at the bottom of the 12-man lineup on the closing day of singles.

Sutton defended Strange's strategy, but he plans to pair his four best players for the team matches to build a lead early in the three-day competition. At The Belfry last month, Europe never trailed after taking a 3-1 lead after the opening round of matches.

Sutton also hopes Woods will strive for Jack Nicklaus' success in the Ryder Cup with the same focus he has gone after Nicklaus' record of 18 career majors.

Woods is 5-8-2 in the past three Ryder Cups and now has lost as many Ryder Cup matches as he has won major championships.

Nicklaus competed in six Ryder Cups from 1969-81 and was 17-8-3 as the U.S. went 5-0-1. As a captain, Nicklaus led the U.S. team to a win in 1983 and a loss in '87.

"I would like to challenge Tiger to look at Jack's record in the Ryder Cup and go after that too," Sutton said.

Sutton, a native and resident of Shreveport, La., said he still plans to play a full schedule on the PGA Tour next year. He has won 14 PGA Tour events, including the 1983 PGA Championship

The 44-year-old, who has competed in four Ryder Cups including this year's, said he would not be a captain-player if he made the team in 2004. He may relinquish his role on the PGA Tour policy board because of his hectic schedule.

Players such as Mickelson and Jeff Maggert were thrilled to learn that Sutton would be the next captain.

"In the Ryder Cup I've played on, nobody has been a more inspirational leader than Hal Sutton," Mickelson said. "I think he'll be a tremendous captain."

Maggert, who went 2-1 playing with Sutton in the 1999 Ryder Cup, put two thumbs up when told about the selection.

"He's a straight shooter," Maggert said. "He's not going to tell you what you don't need to know, but he will tell you what you might not want to hear."

PGA of America president Jack Connelly believes Sutton will keep the Ryder Cup in the United States.

"Hal Sutton's passion for the game, his drive to become a champion and his leadership in past Ryder Cup matches make him the ideal leader to guide the American team in the 2004 matches," Connelly said.

The Associated Press, citing an anonymous source, reported Tuesday that Sutton would be the choice.

Oakland Hills will add the Ryder Cup to its long list of major events, although it did host exhibition charity matches involving the 1940 and '42 U.S. Ryder Cup teams that were unable to face Europe during World War II.

It has hosted six U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships - with a third coming in 2008 - two U.S. Senior Opens and this year's U.S. Amateur. Ben Hogan, who won the 1951 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills, dubbed the course: "The Monster."

"I don't want to beat the Europeans on course setup," Sutton said. "I want to beat them with sterling play."



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