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Lehman looks forward to Woosnam challenge

American Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman has paid tribute to the competitiveness and tenacity of his European counterpart Ian Woosnam.

Briton Woosnam, a veteran of eight Ryder Cups as a player, was appointed on Wednesday to lead Europe's trophy defence against the United States in 2006 at the K Club in County Kildare.

"Of the three Ryder Cup teams that I've been a member, two of them came when Ian was playing for Europe," Lehman, 45, said in a statement released by the PGA of America.

"I have great respect for him, and his competitive ability.

"With eight Ryder Cup appearances under his belt, he has all the experience necessary to be a leader and I know that his team will reflect his tenacity in the matches."

Lehman, the 1996 British Open champion at Royal Lytham, was named U.S. captain last November.

Woosnam, who held off the challenge of former major winners Nick Faldo and Sandy Lyle for the 2006 captaincy, has also been backed by Europe's 2002 skipper Sam Torrance.

"I am delighted for Ian -- it's great news," Torrance, who is playing in the Barbados Open on the European Seniors Tour, said in a statement.

"The man deserves to be given the chance and I think he will do a great job as captain of the European team."

Torrance led Europe to Ryder Cup success over the U.S. by 15-1/2 points to 12-1/2 at The Belfry, where Welshman Woosnam played an important role as a vice-captain.

"He was fantastic with both the young players and the more experienced guys at The Belfry, and can use that experience to help him next year," added Torrance.

"He will have more responsibility as captain because he will make the ultimate decisions on pairings and all other aspects of the team, but he will know that and rise to the occasion."

The 36th Ryder Cup will be played at the K Club in Ireland from September 22 to 24, 2006.

 

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