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A Desperate Captain Now Ranking Officer

September 19, 2004|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — It's a little 12-on-12 game with the Ryder Cup on the line today, so when U.S. captain Hal Sutton filled out his lineup card, he went straight to the world rankings and wrote them down in order, opening with second-ranked Tiger Woods, fourth-ranked Phil Mickelson and sixth-ranked Davis Love III to start out at Oakland Hills.

The U.S. trails, 11-5, and no team has come back from more than four points down on the last day to win, which was the reason it took Sutton almost no time to figure out how to field his team for its last chance.

"That was as good as any way I could think of to do it," he said Saturday.

Woods leads off against Paul Casey, Mickelson plays Sergio Garcia, and Love plays Darren Clarke. Casey is ranked 27th, Garcia is ranked 12th and Clarke is ranked 15th.

"The three players that I've put down here are the strongest we've got," Sutton said. "We have a large deficit that we have to overcome, and maybe the Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson that you all know haven't actually been quite there this week, but there is a good chance they might be there tomorrow."

Bernhard Langer, Europe's captain, said he was neither surprised nor afraid.

"I'm actually pretty sure and convinced that out of the first three matches, I'd be very surprised if we don't get two points," Langer said.

In 1999 at Brookline, the U.S. trailed Europe, 10-6, on the last day, but outscored Europe, 8 1/2 --3 1/2 , to complete the biggest comeback in Ryder Cup history.

On the flip side, the U.S. is trying to avoid its most lopsided defeat in the 77-year history of the Ryder Cup, a 16 1/2 --11 1/2 defeat in 1985 at the Belfry.



*--* Today's Matchups Singles pairings, (European players listed first). Times PDT. TIME PLAYERS 9 a.m. Casey vs. Woods 9:11 Garcia vs. Mickelson 9:22 Clarke vs. Love III 9:33 Howell vs. Furyk 9:44 Westwood vs. Perry 9:55 Montgomerie vs. Toms 10:06 Donald vs. Campbell 10:17 Jimenez vs. DiMarco 10:28 Levet vs. Funk 10:39 Poulter vs. Riley 10:50 Harrington vs. Haas 11:01 McGinley vs. Cink


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