Ryder Cup Logo Ryder Cup: Team USASeptember 22-24 2006, The K Club, Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland
Story Image Tom Lehman says he needs to check in with David Toms. (Photo: Getty Images)

Toms' back worries Lehman, but not Woods' form

U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Lehman says his team needs David Toms to recover from the back injury that has beset him.

July 09, 2006

STRAFFAN, Ireland (AP) -- U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Lehman is worried about David Toms after his withdrawal from this month's Open Championship at Royal Liverpool with a back injury.

"I haven't spoken to him and I need to do that, but I'm very concerned about that -- we need him," Lehman said at the Smurfit European Open on Sunday. The Open is July 20-23.

Toms has played in the last two Ryder Cups and his absence from this year's event, set for Sept. 22-24 at The K Club, could hurt the American team's chances of reclaiming the trophy.

Lehman was sanguine about the good form of Tiger Woods at this week's Western Open in Chicago, and at the poor showing by Masters champion Phil Mickelson at the same event.

Woods took nine weeks off after the May 3 death of his father and missed the cut at last month's U.S. Open.

"Knowing Phil, he's probably hitting the ball 10 feet off the ground on every shot, no matter what the conditions are right now, working on that low one that he will need at Hoylake," Lehman said.

Lehman refused to be critical of prospective team members for playing the Western Open as the European Open was not staged at the Palmer Course where the Ryder Cup will be played.

"It really is quite a commitment to making the team by staying and playing over there," Lehman said of the Western Open.

Lehman inspected the Palmer Course several times.

"You can see where the fairways will be cut," he reported. "It's a straight drivers' course, you have to put the ball in play. It will be a great match-play golf course."

Lehman finished tied for 20th at the European Open after a closing 76.

"The wind was blowing pretty hard," he said. "I got out of my rhythm really quick with bogeys at the first two holes. Then I really struggled to make anything happen the rest of the day. I kind of got what I deserved."

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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