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Ian Woosnam tipped for 2006 Ryder Cup Captaincy

Ian Woosnam is widely expected to be named on Wednesday as the European Ryder Cup captain for the 2006 match against the United States.

Fellow Briton Nick Faldo, a six-times major winner and veteran of 11 Ryder Cups as a player, is also in the running for the honour but is more likely to be appointed to lead Europe's challenge in 2008.

There have been suggestions the European Tour's tournament committee could make an unprecedented double announcement this week of the captains for the next two matches.

At the very least, Europe's captain for 2006 will be named on the eve of the Dubai Desert Classic, as long as a decision is reached by the tournament committee at a meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening.

The committee is made up of 14 senior players, including seven-times European number one Colin Montgomerie, Thomas Bjorn, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley.

Another committee member is Germany's Bernhard Langer, who decided this month not to stay on for a second successive term as European Ryder Cup captain at the K Club in County Kildare, Ireland in 2006.

Langer, under whose guidance Europe crushed the Americans by a record 18-1/2 points to 9-1/2 at Oakland Hills last year, has opted instead to try to get to Ireland in two year's time as a player.

With the meticulous German out of the equation, the path was cleared for one of Welshman Woosnam, Englishman Faldo and outsider Sandy Lyle of Scotland to take over the reins.

Although both Woosnam and Faldo enjoy strong support, it is felt the Welshman has greater backing within the tournament committee.

Denmark's Bjorn, who was one of Langer's assistants at last year's Ryder Cup, has said it is a "distinct possibility" Europe's captains for 2006 and 2008 will be announced in Dubai this week.

"I think we are very much in the process of finding our next two captains," he said. "I think we have the next four captains and it is a question of who does it when.

"Let Woosie and Faldo do the next two, not necessarily in that order, and the next two after have to be Monty (Montgomerie) and Ollie (Jose Maria Olazabal)."

The 46-year-old Woosnam, U.S. Masters champion in 1991, is a gutsy and popular player who wears his heart on his sleeve.

A respected Ryder Cup assistant to Mark James at Brookline in 1999 and vice-captain to Sam Torrance at The Belfry in 2002, he has the backing of both men for the 2006 captaincy.

"I think Woosie is the best candidate for the next Ryder Cup, and probably Nick for the next one," said James.

"I think we need a more emotive person to connect with a home crowd (in Ireland) and I think someone with a more detached, clinical mindset is better over there (in the U.S.).

"I think that sort of describes both men's personalities."

The 2008 Ryder Cup will be held in Louisville, Kentucky.

Woosnam also has strong ties with Irish golf and, in the absence of a suitable Irish captain at the K Club, would certainly be a popular choice.

He played in eight Ryder Cups from 1983 to 1997, appearing on four winning teams.

The 2006 Ryder Cup will be played from September 22 to 24.


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