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Page last updated at 18:59 GMT, Wednesday, 6 August 2008 19:59 UK

Azinger would pick 'slave' Mahan

Paul Azinger
Azinger has four wild cards at his disposal

US Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger has said Hunter Mahan's criticism of the tournament may count against him "a little" when it comes to selection.

But Azinger has not ruled picking the 26-year-old American, who said players were "slaves" for the tournament week.

"He's wrong. It's a lot of opinion for someone who hasn't been to the Ryder Cup," Azinger told BBC 5 Live.

"But he's done all the right things and if he's hot then he's getting picked, if he's not then I'll sidestep him."

Mahan is one of America's most promising young players and is 10th in the US points table with just a week left in their qualifying race.

It's pretty obvious Europe will be the favourite again, even though it is in the United States

Paul Azinger
Last week Mahan had told Golf magazine that he got the impression the Ryder Cup was an enjoyment-free imposition on players, and he could foresee the day when players decided to boycott the event.

"From what I've heard the whole week is extremely long," he said. "You've got dinners every night - not little dinners, massive ones.

"As players, that's the last thing we want. We want to prepare ourselves. You're just a slave that week."

With Tiger Woods ruled out of contention because of injury, the ninth-ranked player will be included, and Azinger has four wild cards at his disposal, instead of the traditional two.

The 48-year-old will name his four picks on 2 September and has spoken of his desire to have a team of players who want to be there when the tournament takes place at Lexington in September.

But Azinger believed Mahan deserved a second chance after apologizing for his comments.

"He regrets his comments," added Azinger. "I feel he's done all the right things. He called me right away and I told him I didn't take it personally.

"It's an old argument that the PGA of America has addressed. I don't know who he talked to, it doesn't even matter to me who he talked to, but somebody from the past influenced him a little bit.

"You've got to give young people a break, give anybody a break, when they make a mistake."

America have suffered three successive defeats in the biennial team competition and Azinger believed the absence of "the best player on the planet" made Europe favourites next month.

"I don't see one single positive that Tiger Woods isn't on our team," said Azinger.

"It's pretty obvious Europe will be the favourite again, even though it is in the United States.

"But, in the end, it's about momentum and opportunities on the golf course and who takes advantage of them."

see also
European Ryder Cup rankings
04 Aug 08 |  Golf

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