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Ryder Cup final picks up in air

By BOB HARIG

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 20, 2001


DULUTH, Ga. -- Not only did David Toms win the PGA Championship on Sunday, he secured a spot on his first U.S. Ryder Cup team.

And Toms' move into one of the 10 automatic spots bumped Tom Lehman out.

That left U.S. captain Curtis Strange with plenty to think about. This morning, he will announce his two at-large selections.

Will he pick Ryder Cup veteran Lehman, who dropped to 11th? What about Steve Lowery, who moved to 12th in the standings after a third-place finish in the PGA? Chris DiMarco? He was 11th going in but earned no points with a tie for 16th at the PGA. Scott Verplank? Joe Durant? Brad Faxon? Paul Azinger?

All have had nearly two years to earn points by finishing in the top 10 of PGA Tour events. All waited for a call from Strange.

"I'm kind of glad it's all over," said DiMarco, who shot 71. "It's been kind of ridiculous, really. I'm just trying to play good golf. I made a couple of doubles (bogey) or I think I would have been right there. It was fun. I played good and I'm still playing good, so, hopefully, we still got some picks to go, too."

Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, David Duval and Davis Love had spots wrapped up. Mark Calcavecchia solidified his position with a tie for fourth, as did Scott Hoch and Jim Furyk with their tie for seventh. Hal Sutton and Stewart Cink round out the team.

Verplank often has been mentioned as a possible pick, and his tie for seventh moved him from 17th to 14th in the standings.

"I needed to play good and have a good round so if I don't make it on points, I at least give Curtis something to think about, and I did that," Verplank said. "It just depends on what Curtis is looking for. I've played decent every week. ... I've only missed one cut in the last year and a half. ... I'd love to make it. I think I'd be a great team member. But if he goes for other people, then unfortunately, I'd have to understand that."

Faxon and Azinger did not appear to help their chances. Faxon shot 73 and tied for 59th. He is 16th in points. Azinger, who was an outside shot because of his experience and leadership, shot 74 to tie for 22nd.

"I'm disappointed in my play this week in that respect," Faxon said. "I played very well the first two days, but I didn't have a good weekend. I tried hard. It's tough to be in (Ryder Cup contention) with all of the attention every week."

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