Golf: Putting glory on the line in Brookline

RYDER CUP

UNITED STATES

TIGER WOODS

Age: 23.

World ranking: 1.

Tournament wins: 15 (Two majors, 1997 Masters, Augusta; 1999 US PGA, Medinah).

Ryder Cup: 1997 (P5 W1 H1 L3).

The one and only. Riding the crest of a wave which has seen him regain his world No 1 ranking, contend at Carnoustie and sail to victory in five events in the US, including the PGA Championship. Failed to deliver the goods at Valderrama but that may have been due to a swing change and a shortage of McDonald's cheeseburgers. Never intimidated and rarely outdriven, putting can be a little suspect but shot-making skill around the greens goes some way to making up for it. Will almost certainly be paired with his friend and soulmate in the Ryder Cup pay-for-play scandal, Mark O'Meara. Has described the Ryder Cup as "an exhibition match" but is unlikely to let that affect his ferocious competitiveness.

DAVID DUVAL

Age: 27.

World Ranking: 2.

Tournament wins: 11.

Ryder Cup: Debut.

The World No 2 but not by much. Was the first player to earn his place on the US team. Made headlines around the world when he suggested that up to eight players might boycott the Ryder Cup if they were not paid. Remains unrepentant, but is expected to play without cash. As an amateur, was a four-time All-American and collegiate player of the year in 1993. Joined the Tour in 1995 and has swept all before him, setting a record for rookie earnings and finishing second seven times before winning the first of three successive titles in 1997. Won four times in 1998 and has won four times in 1999. Shot 59 to win the Bob Hope Classic. Intelligent and gutsy. If his heart is in it, he will be a formidable opponent at Brookline.

PAYNE STEWART

Age: 42. World ranking: 8.

Tournament wins: 18 (Three majors: 1989 US PGA, Kemper; 1991 US Open, Hazeltine; 1999 US Open, Pinehurst).

Ryder Cup: 1987, 89, 91, 93 (P16 W8 H1 L7).

Won his second US Open at Pinehurst in June with a peerless display of putting and nerve. Has 11 US Tour titles, including the 1989 PGA Championship. Flamboyant, controversial and much kinder and more fun-loving than his image might imply. Does have a habit of putting his foot in his mouth. Known for his exotic clothes, once based on the colours of the NFL. Good sense of humour. Played the Asian Tour in 1980 and 1981. When he won the 1987 Bay Hill Classic, he donated his $108,000 cheque to a Florida hospital in memory of his father, who had died two years before. In recent years he has become a staunch Christian. Patriotism and putting make him a dependable Ryder Cup player.

DAVIS LOVE

Age: 35.

World ranking: 4.

Tournament wins: 15 (One major: 1997 US PGA, Winged Foot).

Ryder Cup: 1993, 95, 97 (P13 W5 H0 L8).

Played a pivotal role at The Belfry in 1993 when he holed a five-foot putt to beat Costantino Rocca on the final green and retain the trophy for the US. Won the 1997 US PGA Championship at Winged Foot, surpassing the million-dollar mark for the fifth time in his career. Was playing golf as soon as he could walk. Devastated when his father, a highly regarded teacher, was killed in a plane crash in 1988. Fortunes improved when he began working with Butch Harmon in 1990. Long and accurate off the tee. Popular and easygoing. Has been suffering from a pinched nerve in his neck but is reported to be on the mend. Bob Estes, world-ranked 35, is standing by in case he does not make it.

MARK O'MEARA

Age: 42. World ranking: 10.

Tournament wins: 23 (Two majors: 1998 Masters, Augusta; 1998 Open, Royal Birkdale).

Ryder Cup: 1985, 89, 91, 97 (P12 W4 H1 L7).

The 1998 Masters and Open champion and architect of the ugly Ryder Cup pay-for-play row. Forget tradition, honour or Samuel Ryder, the 42-year- old American is an unapologetic campaigner for a Ryder Cup where the players are handsomely rewarded for their efforts. Famous for being Tiger Woods' best friend. Has 15 PGA Tour victories and eight wins around the world. Played in four Ryder and two President's Cups. Gregarious, outspoken and opinionated. A veteran of many battles. Always near the top of the putting statistics on the US Tour. Does not have a particularly outstanding record in the Ryder Cup and may not be the best partner for Woods. Has potentially affected team morale with his demands for cash.

HAL SUTTON

Age: 41.

World ranking: 11.

Tournament wins: 11 (One major, 1983 US PGA, Riviera).

Ryder Cup: 1985, 87 (P9 W3 H3 L3).

Touted as the next Jack Nicklaus in the early 1980s. Won seven titles - one of which was the 1983 US PGA Championship at Riviera where he actually saw off the Golden Bear - in his first five years on Tour. By 1992, he was on a one-way ticket to oblivion. Plummeted to 185th on the money list and then 161st the following year. Used his one-time top 50 exemption to stay on Tour and clawed his way back to 30th position on the money list. Nine years after his last victory, he won the BC Open with a final round 61. Won the Texas Open and the Tour Championship in 1998 and has played impressively since. At 41, he may have recovered the old magic but Brookline will test his nerve.

JUSTIN LEONARD

Age: 27.

World Ranking: 13.

Tournament wins: 5 (One major: 1997 Open, Royal Troon).

Ryder Cup: 1997 (P4 W0 H2 L2).

Won the 1997 Open at Troon. Has a neat, stylish game and an old-fashioned approach to etiquette and decorum, but let himself down by in effect throwing away the Open twice during the epic finish at Carnoustie in July. With first the tournament, then the play-off, in his grasp, he inexplicably found the burn not once but twice. Still only 27. Managed to win his Tour card without ever attending the qualifying school. Has won four US titles in five years on Tour. Has come from five strokes behind to win on three occasions. Voted one of the world's 25 most eligible bachelors by Cosmopolitan. Played at Valderrama and managed two halves. Old beyond his years. Embodies all the values Crenshaw holds dear.

JIM FURYK

Age: 29.

World Ranking: 14.

Tournament wins: 4.

Ryder Cup: 1997 (P3 W1 H0 L2).

Best known for his Chinese puzzle of a golf swing, which David Feherty once likened to a man trying to kill a snake in a telephone box. Furyk, of course, calls it natural and athletic. Unlovely it might be, but it is devastatingly efficient. His only teacher has been his father, Mike, who took the advice of Arnold Palmer and Gary Player and taught Furyk to putt cross-handed from the age of seven. Earned $1.6m in 1997 without winning a tournament, a record on the US Tour. From 1997 to the end of 1998, he had 25 top-10 finishes. Played in the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama, where he beat Nick Faldo in the singles. Consistency is his forte. Has yet to translate his talent into multiple victories. One of the best putters in golf.

PHIL MICKELSON

Age: 29.

World ranking: 12.

Tournament wins: 14.

Ryder Cup: 1995, 97 (P7 W4 H2 L1).

Prodigiously talented left-hander with a legendary short game. Has yet to translate those attributes into a major, coming closest in June when he finished runner-up to Payne Stewart at Pinehurst. Was whisked away in a series of private cars and planes for the birth of his first child. Started playing golf at one and a half, mirroring his father's swing. Had his own private practice green in the back yard in San Diego. Went on to a glittering amateur career and became the fifth youngest player ever to win a professional event in 1991. Eerily confident and precocious as a rookie, but has mellowed somewhat. Won all three of his matches at Oak Hill and earned two points at Valderrama two years ago.

JEFF MAGGERT

Age: 35.

World ranking: 17.

Tournament wins: 4.

Ryder Cup: 1995, 97 (P7 W4 H0 L3).

A name to conjure with. Not the most scintillating personality on the US Tour, but he does have a Hogan-like swing and a habit of showing up on major championship leaderboards. Unfortunately for him, he tends to fall right off them. Attended Texas A & M, where he was all-America. Played in Asia before joining the PGA Tour in 1990 after winning the Hogan Tour money list. Won the Andersen Consulting World Match Play but has developed a reputation for buckling under pressure after finishing runner- up 13 times on the US Tour. Did secure two points at Oak Hill and two at Valderrama and has just the game to secure two more. Flexible enough to be paired with any player.

TOM LEHMAN

Age: 40.

World ranking: 23.

Tournament wins: 6 (One major: 1996 Open, Royal Lytham St Annes).

Ryder Cup: 1995, 97 (P7 W3 H2 L2).

The 1996 Open champion and one of the most admired and respected players in the game. A late developer. Spent three years battling to survive on the Tour in the mid-Eighties, returning to the qualifying school every year, before resorting to the Asian and South African circuits. Famously sold skis and sandwiches as a club pro. Finally began making headway on the Hogan Tour in 1990, when he won four times. Earned his Tour card in 1992 and followed up with nine top-10s. Finished third and second at the Masters before winning the Open. A strong player and a perfect team man. Gentle, humorous, determined. Beat Ballesteros 4 and 3 in the singles at Oak Hill and Ignacio Garrido 7 and 6 at Valderrama. Dangerous.

STEVE PATE

Age: 38.

World ranking: 28.

Tournament wins: 6.

Ryder Cup: 1991 (P2 W0 H1 L1).

One of Crenshaw's wild cards. Accident-prone, to say the least. Fractured his right wrist in a car accident in 1996, then fractured it again six months later in a bicycle accident. Was the infamous "man in the envelope" at Kiawah Island after allegedly sustaining whiplash injuries in yet another car accident, albeit a very minor one. Under the rules, he and his singles opponent, David Gilford, were each awarded a half, causing some controversy since Pate had played pitifully all week. Has a no wins, one loss and one half record in the Ryder Cup. Has six victories to his name on the US Tour. Nicknamed "Volcano" for his temper on the course. Bound to erupt at Brookline if he does not injure himself first.

EUROPE

COLIN MONTGOMERIE

Age: 36.

World Ranking: 3.

Tournament wins: 29.

Ryder Cup: 1991, 93, 95, 97 (P18 W9 H3 L6).

Europe's most formidable weapon. Winner of a record six successive Order of Merit titles and comfortably on his way to a seventh after five European victories this season. The man from Troon is more than a match for any American with a major title. Attended Houston Baptist University. Has many, many vital attributes. Fearlessness is one of them. Apart from possessing an ebullient, super-confident nature, he has a flowing, low- maintenance swing and a peerless putting stroke. One of the world's best drivers. Has been a key part of Europe's Ryder Cup successes. Is completely at home on US courses and has three top-three places in the US Open and PGA to prove it. Seasoned, ambitious and ready to win.

LEE WESTWOOD

Age: 25.

World Ranking: 5.

Tournament wins: 17.

Ryder Cup: 1997 (P5 W2 H0 L3).

Much will be expected of Westwood, the best player to ply his trade on the European Tour since Ernie Els. Has tucked three successive victories under his belt in just over a month. Never knowingly rattled or afraid. He may not have a major to his name but his strength and accuracy off the tee, implacable nature and superlative iron play make him more than a match for any one of the Americans. Has won in New Orleans and contended at the Masters and is perfectly at home on US courses. Fully recovered from a virus affecting his arms and wrists which set him back after Augusta earlier this year. Uncomplicated and street smart. Has Montgomerie's facility for long winning streaks.

DARREN CLARKE

Age: 31.

World Ranking: 21.

Tournament wins: 6.

Ryder Cup: 1997 (P2 W1 H0 L1).

A mercurial player, equally capable of flights of tremendous brilliance and sullen mediocrity. One of the most talented golfers ever to emerge from Ireland, but extremely reliant on confidence and prone to constant mood swings. A streak player. Scored a record-equalling 60 at the K Club, venue for the 2005 Ryder Cup, gathering a record- equalling 12 birdies on the way round, but scored 75 to lose the next day. Loves Ferraris, food and the good things in life. Won his first fourball match at Valderrama, paired with Colin Montgomerie, before being inexplicably benched until the singles. Lost to Phil Mickelson. Finished best European at the US Open in June and will be an asset at Brookline if his confidence is high.

PAUL LAWRIE

Age: 30.

World Ranking: 47.

Tournament wins: 3 (One major: 1999 Open, Carnoustie).

Ryder Cup: Debut.

Not a name likely to strike fear into American hearts, despite his status as one of only two major champions on the European side. Apart from finishing sixth in the 1993 Open, had had a relatively undistinguished career until he won the 1999 Qatar Masters by seven strokes and emerged from nowhere to snatch the claret jug at Carnoustie in July. Credit his coach Adam Hunter and the sports psychologist Dr Richard Cox for the dramatic change in his fortunes. Showed both nerve and verve at the Open, playing phenomenal golf on one of the hardest courses in history. A trifle dour and laconic in nature. Inexperienced. Could provide solid backing to a more showy, charismatic player at Brookline.

MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ

Age: 35.

World Ranking: 36.

Tournament wins: 5.

Ryder Cup: Debut.

Vice-captain to the manic Seve Ballesteros at the last Ryder Cup, a challenge and a half for the strongest of men. Has five European titles to his name, including the 1998 Lancome Trophy where he chipped in to beat Mark O'Meara and David Duval among others, but it is his experience at Valderrama which will help him most at Brookline. Frequently provided the only rational, sensible, objective voice on the final day of the 1997 Ryder Cup when Ballesteros seemed out of control. A patient, likeable man with no airs and graces in life or in golf. Would play well with most partners, but is more likely to spark and come into his own if he is paired with his countryman Jose Maria Olazabal.

JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL

Age: 33. World Ranking: 24.

Tournament wins: 25 (Two majors: 1994 Masters, 1999 Masters, both Augusta).

Ryder Cup: 1987, 89, 91, 93, 97 (P25 W14 H3 L8).

Two years ago, when the hardest decision of his day was how to get from the bed to the bathroom, the Ryder Cup seemed beyond the wildest dreams of the injured 1994 Masters champion, but he is back, fully fit and has another Masters under his belt. Made his Ryder Cup debut at Muirfield Village in 1987, his partnership with Seve Ballesteros contributing mightily to Europe's historic victory. Over the next few years, they became an almost unbeatable pairing. When Ballesteros's game began to decline, Olazabal proved his own man, tough, passionate and capable of miracles. Driving is a weakness but he has a magical short game. Will be required to help a rookie through the pressure-cooker that is the Ryder Cup.

SERGIO GARCIA

Age: 19.

World Ranking: 25.

Tournament wins: 1.

Ryder Cup: Debut.

The most sensationally gifted and charismatic prodigy to hit European golf since the emergence of his countryman Seve Ballesteros. Took up golf at three and was club champion at 12. Never looked back. Turned professional in April this year after finishing low amateur in the Masters and won the Irish Open on his sixth start. Shot a 62 in his first event in America. Struggled at Carnoustie but bounced back to wow the world with a performance of precocious brilliance at the US PGA championship. Holed an outrageous putt in the closing stages of the tournament to throw the gauntlet down for Tiger Woods. Finished a shot off the lead. Is likely to be as vital to Europe's hopes as Olazabal was in 1987.

JARMO SANDELIN

Age: 31.

World Ranking: 73.

Tournament wins: 4.

Ryder Cup: Debut.

A colourful extrovert, with a penchant for spiked crocodile-skin cowboy boots, transparent golf shirts and belts from Milan. Marginally less eccentric than that other Swedish national, Jesper Parnevik, but also very talented. Came from six behind to win the Turespana Open Canarias on only his fourth outing on Tour. Qualified for the US Tour in 1995 but decided to stay in Europe. Confident and outgoing. His regular caddie is his girlfriend, Linda. Won twice early in the year to earn his place on the team. Has a 52-inch driver with which he hits prodigious distances and a reputation as one of the best putters on the Tour. Like several of the crop of Ryder Cup rookies, though, he is subject to streaks of form.

JEAN VAN DE VELDE

Age: 33.

World Ranking: 89.

Tournament wins: 2.

Ryder Cup: Debut.

Irrepressible Frenchman who became the most celebrated runner-up in Open history with his antics on the 18th at Carnoustie - a combination of joie de vivre and farce, depending on your point of view - takes his travelling show to Brookline. What the outcome will be is anybody's guess. Demonstrated an almost Seve-like boldness, flair and facility for good fortune at Carnoustie, but has a Gallic disposition. Represented France six times in the Dunhill Cup and has played in the World Cup since 1989. Finished 26th in the US PGA, his first major in America. Will need a firm hand from his captain, a steady playing partner and a reliable caddie.

PADRAIG HARRINGTON

Age: 28.

World Ranking: 74.

Tournament wins: 2.

Ryder Cup: Debut.

Inexperienced at Ryder Cup level but did play in the winning Walker Cup side at Royal Porthcawl in 1995 and partnered Paul McGinley to victory in the 1997 World Cup at Kiawah Island. Adopted a strict fitness regime at the start of the season and began working with Sam Torrance's father, Bob, and has gained both strength and length. Runner-up at the BMW International Open to qualify for Brookline. Capable of putting the spots off the ball. Subject to slumps of form. Hopes to follow in the footsteps of fellow Irishmen Eamonn Darcy, Christy O'Connor Jnr and Philip Walton, all of whom secured crucial points for Europe.

JESPER PARNEVIK

Age: 34.

World Ranking: 15.

Tournament wins: 8.

Ryder Cup: 1997 (P4 W1 H2 L1).

The man who should have won the Open at least twice. Famous for his upturned cap, his curious clothes and numerous eccentricities, Parnevik is an undeniable talent, and crucial to the European team. Was runner- up in the 1994 Open and led by two going into the last round of the 1997 Open. Plays in the US, where he has won twice. Enjoys magic, playing bridge and eating volcanic sand to cleanse his system. Has three daughters, Peg, named after his tee peg, Penny, named after his ballmarker, and Pebble Peach. Talented, passionate and adept at coping with the demands of US courses - providing he watches the scoreboard. Good on and around the greens. Knows the games of all 12 Americans.

ANDREW COLTART

Age: 29.

World Ranking: 67.

Tournament wins: 3.

Ryder Cup: Debut.

A Ryder Cup rookie but one with courage, attitude and dedication to spare. Played Walker Cup golf as an amateur and has proved the backbone of the Scottish team on more than one occasion in the Dunhill Cup, helping his country to victory in 1995. Is prepared to work hard, learn and travel. Courteous and ambitious. Has won the Australian PGA championship twice and took the Qatar Masters in 1998. Was prepared to do all that was necessary to qualify for the Ryder Cup, but a rib injury forced him to withdraw from the US Open. Was 12th on the qualifying list when Mark James handed him a wild card. His wife, Emma, gave birth to their first child last week.

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