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Curtis Strange

Curtis Strange confirmed as next US Ryder Cup Captain

Strange to be named next Ryder Cup captain Monday ?
Curtis Strange hopeful for Ryder Cup captaincy

Curtis Strange confirmed as next US Ryder Cup Captain

Curtis Strange, a two-time U.S. Open champion who played on five Ryder Cup teams, today was appointed captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team that will try to retain the cup in 2001 at The Belfry in England.

"You're chosen for your ability to lead, to prepare your players and to win back the cup," Strange said from the PGA of America headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. "It's a daunting challenge, but I'm looking forward to it very much. ... It's truly an honour, but also a tough task."

It could be especially difficult this time given the controversy that followed the Americans' stunning comeback at The Country Club last month outside Boston.

Europeans complained bitterly about insults from the gallery. Inside the ropes, they accused U.S. players of inciting the raucous fans and crossing the line of sportsmanship by charging across the 17th green when Justin Leonard holed a 45-foot putt.

Jose Maria Olazabal still had a 25-foot putt that would have kept the match alive and the cup undecided. When the cheering subsided, he missed, although the two-time Masters champion later said the celebration did not affect the outcome.

"It might be over the edge, and we apologised," Strange said. "Hopefully, they accept our apology."

Strange called the fans at Brookline, Mass., the "greatest in the world," in part because he won the first of consecutive U.S. Open titles at The Country Club in 1988, beating Nick Faldo in a playoff.

"The Belfry is not going to be as tough as people imagine," he said. "They root hard for their own team, which they should. Part of my job is to prepare my team for the task at hand, not only to win the cup, to prepare for fans rooting very strongly for their own team."

Still, he said one of his first priorities will be to talk with the European captain about the intensity that has been building in the biennial matches. Sam Torrance is considered the front-runner to succeed Mark James.

"We're aware of what happened, and we don't expect it to happen again," Strange said.

The selection of Strange has been widely accepted by several key players, such as Tiger Woods and Davis Love III.

"It will be neat to have him over there in that environment," Woods said last week.

Strange has won 17 times on the PGA Tour, but not since he became the first player since Ben Hogan to win back-to-back U.S. Opens in 1989. He has spent the past three years splitting time between the PGA Tour and as a golf analyst for ABC Sports.

He said all five of his Ryder Cup experiences have been a thrill, although not all were victorious. Strange played on only one winning team, in 1983 under captain Jack Nicklaus.

He last played in 1995, when he was a captain's pick of Lanny Wadkins and missed two par putts on the final two holes in a decisive match against Faldo that returned the Ryder Cup to Europe.

Even so, Strange is prepared to be under the spotlight once again.

"Hopefully, the accolades won't go to me if we win because it's the players," Strange said. "If we lose, it comes back to me, and that's OK. If you think you're good enough to win, you better have the guts to lose."