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Strange Picked Ryder Captain

Two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange has been selected as the next captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team that will try to retain the cup in 2001 at The Belfry in England, a source familiar with the appointment said Friday.

Strange, 44, has been considered the leading candidate to succeed Ben Crenshaw the day after the Americans staged the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history last month to defeat Europe.

PGA of America spokesman Julius Mason would not comment on next captain, but said an announcement would be made at 10 a.m. Monday.

Strange declined comment Friday at the National Car Rental Classic at Disney World, where he shot a 3-under 69 in the morning and covered the afternoon rounds for ESPN Sports.

"All I can say is what I've said before, and that is it would be a tremendous honor," he said. "I haven't heard anything yet."

But a source, speaking on condition that he not be identified, told the AP that Strange's selection would be announced Monday morning at the PGA's headquarters in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Strange has won 17 times on the PGA Tour and became the first player since Ben Hogan to win the U.S. Open in consecutive years at Oak Hill in 1989. He won the Open the previous year at The Country Club, and was among the candidates to be captain for this year's Ryder Cup matches.

The PGA instead picked Crenshaw, whose team overcame a 10-6 deficit on the final day with a dramatic singles charge that included such raw emotion and celebration that Europe complained bitterly about the Americans' lack of sportsmanship.

What began with just about every American pumping his fist culminated with a wild charge across the 17th green when Justin Leonard holed a 45-foot putt that ultimately clinched the cup, although Jose Maria Olazabal still had a 25-foot birdie putt to keep the match alive.

The gallery was especially notorious, hurling vicious insults at Colin Montgomerie and reportedly spitting on the wife of European captain Mark James.

Strange will be faced with leading a U.S. team to victory in Europe for the first time since 1993 at The Belfry and with handling a potentially volatile atmosphere.

"The next two captains, whoever they are, with the PGA on both sides of the Atlantic, need to go out of their way to diffuse this situation," Strange said three weeks ago during the Buick Challenge.

"I have to admit, the way they were treated by our galleries at Boston was uncalled for," he said. "Nobody deserves that. There's an tiquette not only with the players, but with galleries."

He played on five Ryder Cup teams, though only one of them was a winner, in 1983 at the PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens. Still, his overall record in the matches was 16-12-2.

While Crenshaw was known as "Gentle Ben," Strange was one of the most fiery players in his prime.

"I don't know how he's perceived over there, but I know he's tough enough to handle whatever happens," Davis Love III said.

Strange won every year but twice in the 1980s, culminating with his back-to-back Open titles to close out the decade. He hasn't won since, and began working for ABC Sports in 1997. He continues to play at least 15 events on the PGA Tour each year along with his television work and remains close to the players.

"I think he would be a great captain," Love said earlier this month. "He was great at Oak Hill (as a captain's pick). He was like a leader. He knew things to do pump you up, and what to do to keep you lose."

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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