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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 August 2006, 01:55 GMT 02:55 UK
US Ryder Cup race enters last lap
Tom Lehman
Lehman is expected to pick Davis Love and Stewart Cink
There are 18 holes to play in the two-year race to decide the US Ryder Cup team but the line-up looks settled.

On a thrilling day at the last event in the selection race, the USPGA, the only damp squib was the Ryder Cup angle.

All the players attempting to earn automatic spots in Tom Lehman's team for the K Club next month went backwards at Medinah on Saturday.

Davis Love and Tim Herron both fell away meaning the current top-10 in the standings will be safe.

Love started his third round just one shot off the lead but a 73 dropped him to a share of 18th at six under. The 42-year-old needs to finish eighth to claim an automatic spot.

Herron requires a seventh-place finish to knock out Brett Wetterich, who missed the cut, and will resume on Sunday joint eighth after he carded a level-par 72.

Woody Austin and JB Holmes lie joint 12th, but have to be third and first respectively at Medinah.

If they fail to achieve their goals Lehman's wildcards are expected to go to Love and the 33-year-old Stewart Cink, who shot a 73 on Saturday for a tie of 40th.

Other players who needed big results this week, like Billy Andrade and Lucas Glover, all tumbled down the leaderboard.

Barring a big charge from Herron, there probably will not be a change in the standings at all. This means the American team will have four rookies - Vaughn Taylor, JJ Henry, Zach Johnson and Wetterich.

Davis Love
Love had been hoping to earn an automatic spot

But Lehman has organised a two-day scouting mission for his team three weeks before the biennial competition starts.

He has booked a charter flight to leave after the Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday 27 August and return in time for the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are not expected to make the Ireland trip.

"The goal is to take care of a lot of things, instead of figuring it out at the Ryder Cup," said Lehman, whose missed cut in the USPGA ruled him out of any chance of making his team by right.

Both Woods and Mickelson have prior commitments.

Woods, however, knows the course better than most as he is a good friend of the K Club's owner, Dr Michael Smurfit, and often stays there during his pre-Open visits to Ireland.

But most of his team-mates will not have been to the County Kildare course before.

The reconnaissance trip will be the first made by an American team to a Ryder Cup site.

Tom Kite urged his team in 1997 to go to Valderrama, but hardly anyone did and the Americans were confounded by the Spanish greens and unusual lay-out.

Hal Sutton wanted his team to visit Oakland Hills but only a few went before a humiliating loss.

Europe has won the transatlantic tussle seven of the last 10 times, including an 18-9 victory in 2004.

European captain Ian Wooosnam conceded that the visit would give the Americans a good look at the Palmer course which will be used for the 22-24 September competition.

"Obviously they want to win this time," said Woosnam.

"I'm quite sure they'll be able to play the course very near to what it will be like for the match, apart from the rough growing just a little bit more."

K Club calling
14 Aug 06 |  Golf


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