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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 November, 2004, 20:22 GMT
Lehman named US Ryder Cup captain
Tom Lehman
Lehman, 45, has played in three Ryder Cups
Former Open champion Tom Lehman has been named as the United States captain for the 2006 Ryder Cup in Ireland.

Lehman, who won the 1996 Open at Royal Lytham, takes over from Hal Sutton, whose team suffered a record defeat at the hands of Europe in September.

The 45-year-old held off the challenge of Mark O'Meara, Larry Nelson, Fred Couples and Corey Pavin for the post.

Lehman's last involvement in the Ryder Cup was in Boston in 1999 when he was heavily criticised for his conduct.

He was among several American players and spouses who famously charged across the 17th green at Brookline shortly after Justin Leonard had holed out from 45 feet.

Leonard's opponent, Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal, was still facing his own putt at the time, which could have saved the overall match for Europe.

Without question, we will go to Ireland as underdogs
Tom Lehman
By apparently stepping on Olazabal's line, the Americans committed one of golf's cardinal sins.

Lehman will lead the Americans, who have lost the last two matches, at the K Club in County Kildare, Ireland from 22-24 September 2006.

"What a thrill and an honour it is. Being the Ryder Cup captain is certainly beyond my wildest dreams," Lehman said.

"The Ryder Cup, to me, is the ultimate golf experience. I have a real passion for the event.

"But we have a tough road ahead of us. Although we always go into the Ryder Cup as the favourites, four of the last five have been won by Europe.

At least Tom is a contemporary of ours
Tiger Woods
"Without question, we will go to Ireland as the underdogs."

He made his Ryder Cup debut in a losing cause at Oak Hill in 1995 and was on the losing side again at Valderrama, Spain, two years later before helping the US to victory at Brookline.

The choice of Lehman was immediately endorsed by former world number one Tiger Woods.

"I think he'll be great," Woods said as he prepared for this week's Tour Championship at Atlanta's East Lake Golf Club.

"He was one of the spearheads that we had at Valderrama and one of the leaders in the locker room at Brookline, so I think he'll do a great job.

"At least Tom is a contemporary of ours, and I've played on all my Ryder Cup teams basically with Tom. He's been my partner in Ryder Cup play. I think it's a good choice."

The Europeans, who have a one-year qualification period for the Ryder Cup compared to the two-year system adopted by the US, will name their captain for the 2006 match next year.

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