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Curtis Strange ready for Ryder Cup to start

United States Ryder Cup captain Curtis Strange is well aware of the pressure he is under for the 2002 event, to be held at the Belfry next month.

It, after all, has been building for a year, after the 2001 event was postponed due to the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

"I think it's probably been frustrating for some of the players that were really excited about playing," Strange said on Wednesday, the day before the U.S. PGA tournament, the last major of the year, tees off.

"I mean specifically the three guys who had not done it, (David) Toms, Verplank, (Stewart) Cink, but it's coming closer and we'll play the matches."

"I think everything will really pick up from after this week from the standpoint that this is the last major of the year and we now can look forward to the Ryder Cup."

While the delay has given everyone breathing room from the attacks, Strange is faced with a question of whether the team he selected last year are the best players available this year.

Hal Sutton, a stalwart of the 1999 matches for the U.S. when he won three and half points, has not finished in the top 10 in a PGA Tour event in 2002, missed 14 of 21 cuts and is 140th on the PGA Tour money list.

Paul Azinger, Strange's pick for the event, has been dealing with middle back problems that have hurt his play over the season.

But with a fourth-place finish last week at the Buick Open, Azinger seems to have returned to form, and Strange says he is confident of his team's collective ability.

"I feel good about the possibility of them all playing pretty solid golf during the week, and I feel good about their playing good right now.

"I'm not going to sit here and say win, lose or draw. We have to go play well. That's been proven.

"As I have said all along, the perfect-case scenario for me is we go play well and win and my name is never mentioned, because they are the show."

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