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Tour News (posted 23rd August 1998)

Mark James tipped to be next Ryder Cup captain

Straffan, Ireland - One-time golfing rebel Mark James is expected to be named as captain of Europe's 1999 Ryder Cup team on Wednesday.

The captain will be announced at a news conference before the start of the BMW International Open at Nord-Eichenried, outside Munich.

The timing of the announcement led to speculation German veteran Bernhard Langer would be named captain of the team who will seek to retain the title at Brookline, near Boston, in September next year.

But Langer, a stalwart in the last nine European teams in the biennial match, has always ruled himself out because he hopes to play on the team again.

James's name has been linked with the captaincy for months but the 44-year-old Englishman was evasive on the subject at the current Smurfit European Open at the K Club.

"If and when someone is announced as captain, I'm sure he will be happy to spend as long as you want talking," he told reporters.

James, a lugubrious-looking character with a trademark droopy moustache, has played in seven Ryder Cups but is best remembered for his behaviour back in the 1979 contest at The Greenbrier, when he was disciplined for unprofessional conduct.

James and team mate Ken Brown refused to wear team uniforms, attend team meetings or be part of group photographs.

But he has undergone a transformation and is now chairman of the Professional Golf Association's tournament committee and a widely-respected senior member of the European tour.

Former European captain Bernard Gallacher, who led Europe to their 1995 victory, said James was the best choice.

"Mark would make a terrific captain. I personally believe Mark and Sam Torrance are the only two people in the running but Sam may feel he has got at least another match in him as a player," he said.

"What makes a good captain is that he is popular and the players like him, so that they respect you and they are able to go out and do their best job for you," he added.

The role of Ryder Cup captain has grown with the Cup itself. Once a gentlemanly competition played with little media interest as the Americans regularly won easily, it is now a closely fought showdown which dominates golf's calendar and attracts huge audiences.

Spain's Seve Ballesteros was captain of Europe's victorious 1997 team in his home country but resigned immediately his team won because he, too, hopes to qualify as a player in 1999.

The battle for points for automatic selection begins in next week's European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre, Switzerland, with three times U.S. Masters and Open Champion winner Nick Faldo returning from the U.S. tour to join the hunt.

Faldo has been in dismal form this year, sliding to 61st in the world and missing the cut on Friday at the Sprint International in Colorado.