Paul Azinger Captain Paul Azinger makes Ryder Cup picks; Tiger Woods and wife expecting

Captain Paul Azinger announced his selections for the final four spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team Tuesday, adding Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan, J.B. Holmes and Chad Campbell to the roster.

Azinger's four captain's selections join automatic qualifiers Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Kenny Perry, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard, Ben Curtis and Boo Weekley on a U.S. squad that is bidding for its first Ryder Cup since 1999. Europe has dominated the series over the last two-plus decades, winning eight of the last 11 meetings since 1985.

While acknowledging that the European squad is the clear favorite - especially with Tiger Woods out of action with a knee injury - Azinger said he feels good about the U.S. squad's chances in the Ryder Cup Matches, which will be played Sept. 19-21 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.

"I like the team that we have and I'm really confident with who we have," Azinger said in a teleconference. "We are going to be underdogs in this event, and I think it's okay to be the underdog."

In Stricker, the U.S. team gets the resiliency of the two-time PGA Tour comeback player of the year.

"Statistically, he's a fantastic player," Azinger said of Stricker. "He's playing extremely well and had the selection process continued on the last three weeks, Steve Stricker would have actually made the team, so I'm really happy to have Steve, and Steve is extremely excited about being picked."

Azinger referred to Mahan as a "young lion," who he likes despite no past Ryder Cup experience.

"Terrific ball-striker," Azinger said. "Statistically, he's very high in greens in regulation and I think he has a lot of heart and he's going to add a lot to the team."

Azinger selected Holmes, a long hitter and Kentucky native, with his third captain's pick. He said Holmes was selected based on his excellent record in the Walker Cup and his success on the PGA Tour this year.

"I really like J.B. Holmes' personality," Azinger said. "I think he fits match play and he knows Valhalla like the back of his hand, so maybe that will help. I hope it does. I'm really excited to have J.B. on the team. He was extremely excited."

Azinger said he selected Campbell largely based on the fact that he's a "terrific" ball-striker. Campbell is third in the PGA Tour in the all-around statistics category and fairly long off the tee, Azinger said.

Mahan's reaction to being selected typified what all four captain's selections said they felt when they got the call from Azinger.

"I've got the best feelings in the world right now: I'm on the Ryder Cup team and there's nothing more to say than that, and I wish it started tomorrow," said Mahan, who was publicly critical of the Ryder Cup earlier this year. "I think we are all pretty excited about it and very much looking forward to it and excited about having it in the States."

Azinger said selecting his four captain's picks was an agonizing process. He said several very solid players were left off the team.

"I don't want to try to justify for anybody really why I didn't pick the guys that I didn't pick," Azinger said. "There are a lot of guys who are really deserving to be on the team and I have some really good friends who I would have liked to have picked that I didn't pick, so there was some heartache in all of this as well."

On Sunday, European captain Nick Faldo selected Ian Poulter and Paul Casey to fill out his 12-player roster. They're joined by Oliver Wilson, Justin Rose, Soren Hansen, Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson, Robert Karlsson, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Graeme McDowell.

Woods working on a foursome

Sam Woods is going to be a big sister. That was the news Tiger Woods announced on his Web site Tuesday, revealing that he and his wife, Elin, are expecting their second child in "late winter."

"Elin is feeling great, and we are both thrilled," Woods wrote in a news article posted on his official Web site. "While my injury has been disappointing and frustrating, it has allowed me to spend a lot of time watching Sam grow. I can't begin to tell you how rewarding it is being a dad and spending time with her and Elin. The injury has been a blessing and a disappointment."

Woods didn't give any hints about the sex of his unborn child.

"I'm already starting to wonder if Sam's sibling will be a boy or a girl," Woods wrote.

September 3, 2008

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