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Lehman plans to pair Woods and Furyk again at the 2006 Ryder Cup

The American captain also sees no reason to split up the successful pairs of Mickelson-DiMarco and Leonard-Verplank.

September 29, 2005

-- U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Lehman plans to pair Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk together in next year's clash against Europe.

Lehman was at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club for last week's Presidents Cup, and was delighted as Woods and Furyk teamed up to win two of their three matches together while halving the other. Woods has a mediocre record in team competition, but Lehman was not surprised that he clicked with Furyk.

"They have similar personalities in a lot of ways, but more so they compete in the same manner," Lehman said after a 3-under 69 that left him seven strokes behind leader Charles Warren after the first round at the Chrysler Classic of Greensboro.

"You never see them give up. They're never out of a hole, never satisfied and they hate to lose. They also putt the same way," he added. "Both like to die the ball into the hole with the same speed, so they can read putts together accurately."

Lehman agreed that it was highly likely that Woods and Furyk would play together on the first day of the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club in Ireland next September. He also sees little reason to break up the combinations of Phil Mickelson-Chris DiMarco and Justin Leonard-Scott Verplank, who also teamed up successfully last week.

"There were some fantastic pairings that in some ways confirmed my feelings about how to pair people, which is based more on competitive styles and personalities than whether you play the same ball," added Lehman. "There were also a couple of groups that didn't work out, and I didn't think they would. It reinforced my instincts in the right direction."

But Lehman still hopes to make the team as a player, and he is certainly in the running. He is lying 13th in the American standings, with the top 10 players after next August's PGA Championship qualifying automatically.

"It would be an achievement of a real goal of mine if I could be named captain and make my own team," he said. "I'm in a good position."

But, whether or not he is on the team, he is confident the USA will be tough to beat.

Copyright 2005 PA Sport. All rights reserved.

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