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Tour News (posted 26th August 1998)

It's official - Mark James will be next European Ryder Cup captain


Munich, Germany - Ex-rebel Mark James joined golf's establishment on Wednesday when he was named Europe's Ryder Cup captain.

The player punished for his stand against authority two decades was charged with retaining the cup on American soil next year.

With great irony, James named Ken Brown, the man reprimanded with him in the 1979 match, as one of his two assistants.

James, experienced in seven of the biennial matches, was quick to set the record straight over his misdemeanours for which he was reprimanded and fined.

Among the charges levelled at the pair during the encounter at The Greenbrier, West Virginia, was bringing the team into disrepute by not wearing official clothes at formal ceremonies. Both players were fined and suspended from international golf for a year.

"In 20 years a lot of water -- an ocean in fact -- has gone under the bridge," said James.

"At the time anyway, I felt it was more attitudes than misdemeanours. And things have been exaggerated over the years, grown into folklore.

"It was unfortunate but that was then. It's time to concentrate on the 1999 match and not go over history."

James has chosen Sam Torrance as his other assistant, providing the Scot, does not qualify as a player.

"Sam and Ken have great Ryder Cup experience and very, very good relations with the players. They have the player's respect and I trust the judgement of both of them," explained James.

The new man at Europe's helm had said three years ago that anyone wanting to take on the captaincy, a non-playing role, must be "mental".

Now James feels he can do the job he has inherited from Seve Ballesteros, who masterminded victory in Spain last year then resigned.

"I won't choke on making tough decisions -- like selecting the two wild-cards -- and hopefully I'll make right decisions. I'll not be afraid if I do or don't," said James.

"I feel I will know how to treat the players, get the best out of them."

James, the European Tour's Players' Committee chairman for several years, will expect to serve just his one term. Torrance now looks his likely successor.

European Tour executive director Ken Schofield said: "He got the job after we had sounded the players through the players' committee. They are the ones who wanted him.

"Mark has been quite modest in not talking about the enormous amount of work he has done 'outside the ropes' over the past few years while pursuing a tournament career.

"He commands the respect of the newest rookies to our great champions. When he became available for the captaincy there was uninamity across the board.

"There was only going to be one candidate and there was not a dissenting voice.

"That left the Ryder Cup committee united because Mark was the players' choice, someone who has been in the heat of battle and someone who commands respect."

James said that he received a congratulatory telephone call from his opposing captain Ben Crenshaw.

"I think Ben and I, who are very good friends, will want to preserve the spirit of the Ryder Cup.

"I can't see either of us stirring up rival fans. The Ryder Cup's not a game about shouting and screaming."

One contemporary James said he hoped to have on his side at the Brookline Country Club near Boston next year was Nick Faldo.

Faldo, a wild-card nomination previously, has decided to return to the European Tour next year to try for a place among the 10 automatic qualifiers.

Seve offers his help to Mark James.