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Stronger U.S. Ryder Cup team a priority for the PGA

By S. Adam Cardais,
Staff Writer

In the hopes of fielding a team that can actually compete with the Europeans in the 2008 Ryder Cup Matches, the PGA of America has changed the system for selecting the U.S. team.

The modifications will give new captain Paul Azinger, a former PGA Championship winner and four-time Ryder Cup player, more captain's picks. This will make it easier to fill the team with hot players - something Azinger thinks is central to bringing the cup back to America, which has lost three straight Ryder Cups and five of the last six.

"I'm not going to let experience be the main key in my picking this team or in making the four picks," Azinger said at a Nov. 6 press conference introducing him as the 2008 team captain.

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"I really want to spend my time focusing on who's hot. One of my best Ryder Cups was in '89 and I was a rookie, I had no Ryder Cup experience, but I hit the ball as well as I could hit it and I played fantastic the whole way around."

The changes start with the captain's picks. Azinger will get four instead of the usual two, which means only eight of the 12 spots will be determined by a points system.

And that points system will be weighted more towards the four majors, earnings and golfers' performance during Ryder Cup years.

Previously the standings were based on points awarded for top-10 finishes, with all events treated equally. Starting next year the system will be based on tournament earnings.

In 2007 players will get a point for every $1,000 they make in the majors; other events will not be considered. In 2008 the point count will be two per $1,000 in majors, one for most other events and a half-point for tournaments staged opposite a major or the World Golf Championships.

The PGA of America and Azinger are betting this system will build a team around the golfers playing best in the run-up to the 37th Ryder Cup Matches at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. The additional captain's picks will give Azinger more power to fill any perceived holes in the squad.

November 9, 2006

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. Content for this site is provided by Golf Publisher Syndications.

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