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Azinger sets out management style

Paul Azinger
Azinger is keen to halt a poor run of US results

US Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger plans to ask his players if there are any team-mates they would prefer not to partner in September's match.

The 48-year-old said he was once paired with an unnamed Ryder Cup colleague he did not get on with and he wants to give the 2008 team members a choice.

"My first question is, is there anyone on the team you just don't want to play with?" he said.

The USA have lost five of the last six stagings of the contest against Europe.

America's 2004 defeat at Oakland Hills was notable for the captaincy of Hal Sutton, who unsuccessfully teamed up Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson together, despite their cool relationship.

With all my heart I believe the selection process is going to make the big difference

Paul Azinger

Ranked first and fourth in the world at the time, the pair lost both of their matches on the opening day before being split up.

Europe have won the last two Ryder Cups by a record 18-9 margin so to arrest the slide, Azinger has decided to have four captain's picks instead of the usual two.

He also says he will almost certainly select any player who wins one of the three PGA Tour events in the weeks leading up to his wildcard announcement in early September.

"The great intangible, the thing you look for out here as a player and hope to attain is confidence," he said.

"We have averaged six players in each of the last five Ryder Cups who had not won a tournament that year. We have (this time) laid the groundwork to get the hottest, most confident players there.

"Anybody who wins after the USPGA (from 7-10 August) is probably going to be pretty confident three weeks later.

"With all my heart I believe the selection process is going to make the big difference."

606: DEBATE
Kwiniaskagolfer

Azinger also insists he will adopt a hands-off approach to managing his team, similar to Jack Nicklaus's captaincy in the Presidents Cup.

"I'm dealing with the 12 best Americans in the world," said Azinger. "If I go in there thinking we have to hold hands, what chance do we have?

"They're all big boys. I'm not going to target we're going to have fun this week or any of that. Guys just hang out and have fun. That's not something that's forced."

Azinger, a veteran of four Ryder Cups as a player, also admitted he would try to get the course prepared in a way that would favour the home team once he knew its make up.

"I don't know how to get an advantage at this point but it would be irresponsible of me not to try to find a way to gain some sort of an edge, if that's possible," he said.

"If I can find it, I'll try to get it."

This year's event takes place at the Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky from 16-21 September.


see also
European Ryder Cup rankings
26 May 08 |  Golf


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