Golf-Open `99: James set to resign Ryder Cup captaincy

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PAUL LAWRIE'S remarkable victory in the Open Championship may take Mark James a step closer to dropping his role of captaining the European Ryder Cup team and, instead, actually playing in the match at Brookline, Boston, in September, writes Andy Farrell. Ken Brown, James's right-hand man along with Sam Torrance, believes James has taken the decision already.

Both Lawrie and the defeated Frenchman, Jean Van de Velde, shot up the Cup standings with their performances at Carnoustie. They won their biggest- ever cheques of pounds 350,000 and pounds 185,000 respectively, and the associated Cup points - the prize-money converted to euros and divided by 100 - will also make an impact on their lives.

Lawrie moved from 28th to second in the points standings and is a certainty for the team, while Van de Velde leapt from 26th to eighth. He has a sizeable lead of 1,077 points over James, but only 90 points separate James in ninth place from Sven Struver in 13th and there are only 668 points between James and Patrik Sjoland in 20th.

"At the moment it is all supposition because I have not got enough points on the board," said James, who finished tied 43rd in the Open.

There are five events left before the team is finalised, along with the captain's two wild cards, after the BMW International in Munich at the end of August.

James promised an announcement on his position during the European Open at the end of this month, but Brown revealed: "If Mark qualifies for the team, he will play because he deserves to be in the team and there would have to be a new captain. Mark has said he will do one or the other. It is impossible these days to play and captain."

As Brown and Torrance were appointed by James as his unofficial lieutenants, the Ryder Cup Committee would have to chose the new skipper if needed. Torrance would be the favourite for the position.

Ryder Cup standings,

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