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Ryder Cup strategies already taking shape

U.S. captain Hal Sutton won't hesitate to bench a player if it means winning the Ryder Cup, and he disagrees with a Solheim Cup rule that everyone has to play at least once before Sunday singles.

``That should be left up to the captain,'' Sutton said. ``I went to (Ben) Crenshaw in '99 and said, 'Let's play to win.' In the past, I think we wanted to make sure everybody plays, but that's not the way Europe plays. They play to win.''

Sutton said he also told Curtis Strange at The Belfry last year to bench him if that would help the Americans. Sutton wound up playing twice, while Paul Azinger only played once before Sunday.

While European captain Bernhard Langer said each captain should decide how to use his 12 players, he thought Mark James made a mistake by sitting out three rookies until Sunday in the '99 matches at The Country Club.

Jarmo Sandelin, Andrew Coltart and Jean Van de Velde were all soundly beaten on the final day, contributing to the Americans' comeback to win the Cup.

Four of the seven Europeans who played all four team matches also were beaten in singles.

``It was not real smart to leave the rookies totally out and throw them in on Sunday. I don't think that's the greatest thing to do,'' Langer said. ``Obviously, you're running the risk if you play the same eight guys all week. They're going to be tired. You're looking at 36 holes the first two days, and the Ryder Cup is known to take a long time.''

Sutton and Langer did agree on one thing: No matter which teams wins the Cup or how soon, all 12 of the singles matches will be played in their entirety.

That wasn't the case earlier this month at the Solheim Cup in Sweden, where the final five matches were conceded by the player who was behind, resulting in a 17 1/2-10 1/2 victory for Europe, the largest margin in Solheim Cup history.

Sutton and Langer discussed the peculiar ending Monday before their news conference at Oakland Hills, site of next year's Ryder Cup.

``We're going to continue to the 18th hole because everyone bought tickets,'' Sutton said. ``We feel everyone deserves a chance to watch.''

If the Cup has been decided and the final match reaches the 18th hole, Sutton said he and Langer can decide how that match should end.

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