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Paul Azinger receives players backing

World number two Jim Furyk endorsed the appointment of Paul Azinger as captain of the US Ryder Cup team, saying he would bring some much needed "feistiness" back to the team.

Furyk, who like many of his countrymen has disappointed in recent years when up against the Europeans, said Azinger was the right man to bring the United States some long-awaited success in the celebrated teams format.

"Paul was, I think, a wonderful choice. He's very feisty. He's very passionate about the Ryder Cup," said Furyk, who is in Shanghai for the five-million-dollar HSBC Champions tournament beginning Thursday.

"I think he really brings a pretty feisty attitude to a team that needs it right now."

Azinger, 46, winner of the 1993 PGA Championship, was on Monday named captain of the US Ryder Cup team, tasked with trying to reclaim the trophy at the 37th edition at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky in September, 2008.

The Americans sole Ryder Cup victory in the past decade came on home soil in 1999 but Furyk insisted on Wednesday that the Europeans had no advantages over the US players in terms of "team spirit" or depth of talent.

"I think they have played better than us but I don't think they are more of a team or get along better than us," he said.

"In fact at times it is the opposite. It's just that they have outplayed us."

Furyk is joined by Ryder Cup team mates Tiger Woods and Chris Dimarco in Shanghai, although there is a much bigger contingent from Europe headed by 2006 European Order of Merit winner Padraig Harrington of Ireland.

England's Paul Casey and Luke Donald, as well as Sweden's Robert Karlsson and Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, are also playing this week in the event co-sanctioned by the European, Asian, Australasian and South African tours.

November 9, 2006


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