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Lehman & Pate get US Ryder Cup call up

The U.S. Ryder Cup team was filled out today when Tom Lehman and Steve Pate were added to the 12-man team that will try to win the cup back from Europe next month in Boston.

Captain Ben Crenshaw announced the selections, praising them as players who can help the American team stop a streak in which Europe has won the last two cups.

Crenshaw also declared his team unified, despite the controversy that raged during the PGA Championship when Crenshaw blasted several top players for making an issue out of Ryder Cup compensation.

"That issue is behind us," Crenshaw said. ``Regardless of what happened this week and how it happened, we have to be a team. Boston is right around the corner. Unification is a big part of this and it's done."

In picking Lehman, a two-time Ryder Cup player, and Pate, Crenshaw bypassed five-time cup player Fred Couples and Bob Estes, who would have played his way onto the team in Sunday's PGA Championship if he hadn't bogeyed two of the last three holes.

"Pulling this team together is something I'll cherish the rest of my life," Crenshaw said. "No captain could look down this list and say these are not the best."

Lehman, who was 12th on the Ryder Cup points list, had widely been expected to be picked for the team. He is 3-2-2 in Ryder Cup play, although he has been on the losing side in both the last two competitions.

"I'm sick and tired of losing," Lehman said.

Pate, who was 14th on the points list, was somewhat of a surprise.

Pate played on one Ryder Cup team, in 1991 in Kiawah, S.C., but was injured in a car accident the week of the event and played in only one four-ball match.

"He's a very, very fierce competitor who will walk through a wall for you if you ask him to," Crenshaw said.

Crenshaw said he didn't make his final pick until late Sunday night, then called Pate, who was already in bed, to tell him. He said he considered Lee Janzen, Chris Perry, Estes and Hale Irwin among others, but agonized over Couples.

"The whole world loves Fred," Crenshaw said. ``But he just hasn't played enough."

Pate, who made the semifinals of the World Match Play championship in February, said he loves the match play format and was eager to play in the Sept. 24-26 matches.

"I talked to Ben yesterday and knew I was in consideration," Pate said. "I was just waiting for him to call."

If Crenshaw was paying attention in the locker room before missing the cut Friday at the PGA Championship, he may have noticed a simple plea.

It was written in black marker on Crenshaw's green locker: "Ben -- Pick me," it read, with four dashes, a blank, and then seven more dashes beneath it.

"That's funny. I didn't write it," Couples said. ``I would love to play on the team. I think anybody would."

The top 10 places on the 12-member team didn't change in the PGA Championship, despite No. 10 Jeff Maggert giving Estes and Lehman an opening by not making the cut.

Estes, needing to finish in fifth place to make the team, came closest, getting as high as fourth Sunday before bogeying Nos. 16 and 17 to drop into a tie for sixth. Lehman finished in a tie for 34th.

The top 10 already on the team include PGA champion Tiger Woods, David Duval, Payne Stewart, Davis Love III, Mark O'Meara, Hal Sutton, Justin Leonard, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and Maggert.

Which left Crenshaw with his two captain's picks -- and one big headache trying to figure out who should get them.

Lehman plays well at courses like The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., where the Ryder Cup matches will be played.

Couples was another matter. He's been on every U.S. team since 1989, and his five Ryder Cup berths are the most among active players.

But unlike Lehman, who added tournaments to get more Ryder Cup points -- he played the Greater Milwaukee Open rather than heading to the British Open a week early -- the PGA was Couples' first tournament since the end of June.

The European choices aren't nearly as messy, but captain Mark James also has another week and another tournament before he has to make his decisions. Sergio Garcia, who was in 12th place, helped him out by playing his way onto the team with the runner-up finish to Woods.

Jesper Parnevik, Bernhard Langer and even the aging Nick Faldo are possibilities, but James isn't giving any clues as to what he'll do. He won't even say whether he'll play if he makes the team on points.

"I have, yes," he said when asked if he'd made a decision. ``That's yet to be announced."

AP