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Ryder Cup the focus for Woody Austin

President Cup winner Woody Austin’s main aim this season is to make the U.S. Ryder Cup squad for the first time.

“That’s my number one goal this year. I’d rather get on that team than win a regular event,” he told reporters ahead of Thursday’s first round in the Honda Classic.

“Like I said, that (team competition) to me is my personality. That is me. I enjoy that atmosphere.”

Austin had an eventful team debut for the U.S. against the Internationals in the President’s Cup in September as he produced an impressive 1-1-3 record in a display which included a fall into the water on the 14th.

The Tampa-born 44-year-old was dubbed ‘Aquaman’ after the incident but, aside from the hilarity prompted, it showed his character as he regained his composure to birdie the final three holes and earn a vital halve.

While he was able to laugh at the incident, Austin wishes more recognition would be given to his actual performance following the splash.

“I was there to play golf, and I was there for our team to win. And it would just be nice that people would recognize that I did birdie three of the last three holes in a row to halve the match, as opposed to always just falling in the water,” he said.

Having enjoyed the close-up team company of the world’s top two players—Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, Austin said that while he was keen for a major, he would love another team appearance.

“Obviously I’d love to win Augusta or something like that, but as far as winning a regular event, I’ve won three now, so I’d rather get on my first Ryder Cup team than to win another and be in that element,” he said, adding that the U.S.’s defeats in the last three Cups gave him additional motivation.

“Let’s face it, we’ve got our butts kicked for a while, I’d like to be on the team that brings it back,” he added.

Austin believes new Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger is just the man to help turn things around.

“He’s going to be a perfect captain for what we need. We need somebody who is real fiery. He’s pretty fiery guy.

“He’s already shook it up pretty good with his change in the way he’s approaching things. So you know, he’s at least taking a nice, aggressive approach to everything, and I think that’s important,” said Austin.

This year’s Cup, a biennial event, will be held at Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Kentucky in September and there has been a change in the qualifying criteria for the U.S team with Azinger now able to choose four, rather than two, of the eight players himself. The other four slots are determined according to performances over the season.

Azinger’s squad will be announced after the PGA Championship concludes on August 10.


February 28, 2008

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