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James & Lehamn in war of words over book

Mark James looks pensive during the third round of the English Open. Allsport

Tom Lehman has blasted last year's European Ryder Cup captain Mark James, describing the Englishman as "really low class."

An angry Lehman made the comment in response to James's controversial new book, "Into the Bear Pit", in which James slams the American for his behavior at last year's Ryder Cup.

When Justin Leonard sank a long putt on the 17th green at Brookline that all but clinched the Ryder Cup for the United States, Lehman led a charge onto the green. The spontaneous joyous celebration still rankles James as Jose Maria Olazabal had yet to take his putt, which could have kept the Cup alive if he sank it for birdie.

"Calls himself a man of God. That was the most disgraceful thing I've ever seen," James writes.

Lehman, in an interview with TourInsider.Com from the Kemper Open, returned fire.

"I think he ought to be proud that he's dragging the Ryder Cup through the muck, like he said he didn't want to do," a sarcastic Lehman said.

"I'm a little angry. I think it's really low class. If that's what he thinks is best, that's his decision."

Lehman isn't the only one James slams in the book. He also takes shots at American Hal Sutton and even fellow Briton Nick Faldo, who wasn't playing the Ryder Cup.

All this is likely to increase tension at next year's Ryder Cup as James has been named assistant captain of the European team -- a position that might now be in jeopardy given the enemies he has made on his side of the Atlantic.

In his attack on Lehman, James writes: "I thought it not so much a question of Lehman's beliefs, more an indication of moral downfall.

"He has always regarded himself as someone who upheld the values of the game and its etiquette but on that day he was way off the mark, to the extent that I will never be able to look on him in the same light again."

As far as Lehman is concerned it is James who has exhibited questionable morals.

"I guess every story needs a good villain and I'm glad he's found one in me," Lehman said.

"I hope he feels good about that. I also hope he feels good about making money off of taking shots at people's character and integrity."

In reaction to Lehman's earlier riposte, James said: "It was not my intention to stir up a hornet's nest.

"The Ryder Cup was devalued in 1999. I don't think my book will do that and I think the chances of a peaceful match next year are enhanced by addressing the problems of Brookline.

"I'm amazed by Tom's reaction. The American was, after all, cast as the villain of the piece at the time and, afterwards, he apologised. I don't think I've been particularly harsh on him in the book. I didn't approve of his actions but I have not launched into an anti-Lehman book."


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