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Curtis Strange - "Greatest week of life"

Looking relaxed and refreshed, Curtis Strange said his three-year reign as the U.S. Ryder Cup captain was an honor that culminated in "the greatest week of my life."

Strange, who played in Wednesday's Pro-Am at his home Kingsmill Course the day before the first round of the Michelob Championship, said he wouldn't second-guess any decisions he made in leading the U.S. team in its 15 1/2-12 1/2 loss to Europe last weekend at The Belfry in England.

Even in defeat, the experience more than lived up to expectations.

"I can't tell you what a great week it was, and I've said to friends of mine that whatever my wildest dreams of how well the week could go, it was tenfold better," he said. "Everything went perfect for the week. The only thing that didn't work out was that we didn't bring back the cup."

Strange, who won the U.S. Open in 1988 and 1989, had his reign as captain extended by a year after the competition scheduled for 2001 was postponed by the terrorist attacks on the United States.

Finally getting to play the matches brought relief and letdown.

"You never know how the week is going to go until you get there," he said. "All the work that went in and preparation was worth it because it made it a good week for the players, and it was just everything."

The U.S. team went into the final day tied 8-8 with the Europeans, but won just two of the 12 singles matches.

"I feel so badly for the guys, but it's nothing they did other than that they just didn't perform as well as you would expect on some rounds," Strange said. "You know, we lost. ... You don't play well, you don't win."

Strange said he didn't necessarily agree that the European players put more stock in winning the Ryder Cup, a belief espoused by Scott Hoch earlier Wednesday, but said the tradition runs much deeper in Europe.

"I think when they grow up in Europe, they think of the British Open and the Ryder Cup, and I only say that because I've heard two or three of them talk like this," he said. "It's really kind of a new baby over here. ... I don't think kids (in the United States) grow up thinking about the Ryder Cup. They grow up thinking about the Masters and the U.S. Open."

Hoch, who finished 0-3-1 in England and lost Sunday's opening match to Colin Montgomerie, said European golfers view themselves much like other country's basketball teams when facing the United States.

"They don't have any more pride than we do in what we do, but I think it means more to them to win than it does to us," he said. "Plus, we're expected - I think when the underdog wins, it always means more to them."

Strange said the focus should be on the spectacular golf played and the sportsmanship, rather than who won and who lost.

"(Phil) Price beating Phil Mickelson - who would have thought?" he said. "But all you can do is applaud him because he'll never forget it.

"As badly as I feel for Phil and as badly as I felt for the team at that point, I couldn't help but think for Phil Price, either, and how he'll never forget this moment for the rest of his life," Strange said.

"It was neat stuff."


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