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Lehman to lead 2006 U.S. Ryder Cup team

November 04, 2004 12:51 IST

Former British Open champion Tom Lehman has been appointed U.S. Ryder Cup captain for the next match against Europe in 2006, the PGA of America said on Wednesday.

Lehman, who won the 1996 Open at Royal Lytham, takes over from Hal Sutton, whose team suffered a record defeat at the hands of Bernhard Langer's Europeans by 18-1/2 points to 9-1/2 at Oakland Hills in September.

The 45-year-old Lehman, who played in three Ryder Cups during the 1990s, held off the challenge of fellow major winners Mark O'Meara, Larry Nelson, Fred Couples and Corey Pavin for the captaincy.

He will lead the Americans, who have lost the last two matches, at the K Club in County Kildare, Ireland from September 22-24, 2006.

Lehman, who made his Ryder Cup debut at Oak Hill in 1995, was on the U.S. team that rallied in the last-day singles to win a turbulent match at Brookline in 1999 by 14-1/2 points to 13-1/2.

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was heavily criticised by the Europeans, and particularly by captain Sam Torrance, for being among several U.S. players and spouses who famously charged across the 17th green shortly after Justin Leonard had holed out from 45 feet.

Leonard's opponent, Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal, was still facing his own putt at the time which could have saved the overall match for Europe. By apparently stepping on Olazabal's "line", the Americans committed one of golf's cardinal sins.

The PGA of America announced Lehman's appointment at its 86th annual meeting in Amelia Island, Florida.

The Europeans, who have a one-year qualification period for the Ryder Cup compared to the two-year system adopted by the U.S., will name their captain for the 2006 match next year.

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