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Europe names Woosnam for '06, Faldo for '08
by Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Ian Woosnam has a tough act to follow as Europe's 2006 Ryder Cup captain.

Six months ago, Bernhard Langer led Europe to a record 18?-9? victory over the United States at Oakland Hills outside Detroit. "I'm not trying to beat that record," Woosnam said. "It really doesn't matter whether we win by nine points or half a point. I am not bothered about breaking records. I just want to win."

Woosnam's appointment Wednesday - his 47th birthday - was widely popular. So was the unprecedented decision to name two captains at once, with Nick Faldo selected for 2008.

Woosnam, a Welshman, will be in charge for the Sept. 22-24, 2006, matches at the K Club in Dublin, Ireland. Tom Lehman will captain the American team.

Faldo, an Englishman who won the Masters and British Open three times each, will captain the 2008 team at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. Paul Azinger, Faldo's broadcast partner on ABC TV, is a top candidate to lead the Americans that year.

"Ian Woosnam's time was right - his time was now," said Colin Montgomerie, who becomes the top candidate to captain the 2010 European team. "Nick was always a special case. Europe's most successful player had to have the captaincy at least once. It was only right we picked both of them at the same time."

Woosnam is still active in European golf. Faldo spends more time in course design and TV broadcasting in the United States.

"We have rewarded two great champions," European Tour executive director George O'Grady said.

"It stops any speculation," European player Lee Westwood said. "I think Woosie will be a good captain for Ireland, he's very popular there. And I think Nick is very popular in the United States. They both have huge respect from the members of the team."

Speaking on the eve of the Dubai Desert Classic, Woosnam said he would name an Irish vice captain for the 2006 Cup.

"I'm absolutely delighted," said Woosnam, who won the 1991 Masters and has played eight times in the Ryder Cup. In 2002 he was European vice captain. "On my 47th birthday to have a present like this is something I will cherish for the rest of my life."

European Tour committee chairman Jamie Spence said members didn't want to snub Faldo, who has played 11 times in the Ryder Cup and holds the European record for points won (25).

"For the man he is, we felt some sort of obligation toward Nick," Spence said.

Faldo did not attend the announcement but said in a statement he had picked up tips playing under five different Ryder captains.

"I've spent a lot of my career in America and have always enjoyed the support of the people and the challenge of competing on the other side of the pond," he said. "I hope that my profile and success in the U.S. will be an advantage to the European team."

Langer, who was on the 14-member tournament committee, stepped down from the job and hopes to qualify as a player for 2006.

"I will definitely be seeking a lot of help from him," Woosnam said.


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