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Lehman to be named US Ryder Cup Captain

Tom Lehman, unbeaten in singles in his three Ryder Cups, will be named U.S. captain for the 2006 Ryder Cup in Ireland, The Palm Beach Post reported Tuesday.

The newspaper said Lehman would be introduced Wednesday at Amelia Island, where the PGA of America is holding its 86th annual meeting.

Lehman did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press seeking comment. The newspaper did not cite a source in its report.

PGA of America spokesman Julius Mason confirmed that a news conference would be held Wednesday to announce the next captain.

``I'd be honored if they choose me,'' Lehman said two weeks ago at Disney. ``But I don't think it's anybody's place to lobby for that position.''

Lehman, 45, would be responsible for leading an American team that was dealt its worst loss ever to Europe, 18 1/2-9 1/2, two months ago at Oakland Hills. Europe now has captured the cup seven of the last 10 times.

Lehman made the Ryder Cup team three straight times, starting in 1995, and was on the U.S. team that rallied from a 10-6 deficit on the final day in 1999 at Brookline. He was heavily criticized by Europeans, particularly Sam Torrance, for being among those who charged onto the 17th green when Justin Leonard made the winning putt.

The former British Open champion has not played on the last two teams as his game has struggled. Lehman just completed his third straight year finishing outside the top 50 on the PGA Tour money list.

The PGA of America typically announces the next captain by the end of October, but has been meeting the past few weeks as it decides whether to go a different direction on how it selects its captains.

Lehman would fit the recent profile -- a major champion in his 40s with Ryder Cup experience.

Several players had lobbied for Larry Nelson, 57, a three-time major champion and the only American to go 5-0 in a Ryder Cup. Many thought Nelson was unfairly bypassed for the captain's job in 1997 when it went to Tom Kite.

Paul Azinger said two weeks ago that he turned down the Ryder Cup job, wanting to focus on his game and his new work in the ABC Sports broadcast booth.

Others believed to be candidates were Mark O'Meara, Fred Couples and Corey Pavin.

Lehman is a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, including the British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 1996 and the '96 Tour Championship. He was voted PGA Tour Player of the Year that season.

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