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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 September, 2004, 19:21 GMT 20:21 UK
All-action Sutton bids for glory
By John Mathews
BBC Sport at Oakland Hills

At first glance, US Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton might appear to be the sort of American who gets people's backs up when they travel overseas.

Hal Sutton
What's the most delicate way of putting this?

He's a little bit on the brash and loud side.

Up close though, it is plain to see he is just one great, big, cuddly bear of a man.

Not that he seems prone to be hugging too many strangers, you understand.

Jaunty as you like and with an inexhaustible supply of one-liners, the 46-year-old from Shreveport, Louisiana is cutting a very impressive, engaging figure at Oakland Hills so far.

Whether his in-your-face man-management approach will regain the Ryder Cup for the United States remains to be seen.

But he tells it like it is and whether you are Tiger Woods or the guy who brings him his coffee in the morning at the team hotel, you suspect he treats everyone just the same.

Witness, for example, how he deals with his US players when he hears they are getting jittery about who they might be paired with in the Ryder Cup on Friday.

He said: "You know what? There's been a lot of people talking about who they are comfortable with and who they are not comfortable with.

"I'm going to tell them tomorrow who they are going to be comfortable with playing."

That settles that then.


Away from golf, he has fingers in many all-American pies.

He rides and sells cutting horses, he's involved in the family oil business, he hunts, he fishes - you get the picture.

It seems he is an all-action tough guy with a mean streak and a heart of gold, though more of a Bobby than a JR Ewing figure.

He can play golf a bit as well, you know.

Since turning pro in 1981, Sutton has 14 tour victories to his name, including the 1983 USPGA Championship.

As a player, he has contributed nine points to the United States cause from four Ryder Cup matches.

This week he has set his stall out as the straight-talking skipper with a no-nonsense mission to bring the Cup he helped win at Brookline in 1999 back to American soil.

And if the players don't like his style, you certainly won't hear about it - not this week anyway.

Not while the boss is around.

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