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United States

The captain: Lanny Wadkins

A respected figure and an ideal figurehead to rise above the jingoistic excesses which have, in the past, attached themselves to the event. Not that he is completely above Ryder Cup excitement himself, as he confessed recently: "I'm going to have enough stomach acid to wear the chrome off a set of irons before the week's over." He is a friend of Gallacher's - the two have been communicating across the Atlantic by phone - and he started his Ryder Cup playing career against Gallacher in 1977. Victory there was the start of an outstanding Ryder Cup record; he had won seven straight matches until Gallacher beat him in the singles two years later. He is best remembered, though, for his 72-yard wedge to the final green at the PGA National in 1983 which halved his singles match and is accredited as the shot which won the match by a single point.

Age: 45

Ryder Cups as player: 1977, 79, 83, 85, 87, 91, 93

Playing record: P34, W20, H3, L11

First Ryder Cup as captain

Corey Pavin

Probably the Americans' toughest competitor, as David Feherty acknowledged in an assessment of the team. "When you first see Pavin," he wrote, "you think, 'Well I'll take care of this little runt,' but you usually find yourself with the battle of your life." Pavin is, indeed, unshakeable - he has done well at the World Match Play - and he has all the shots, the most famous being his four wood to the final green of the US Open this year which won him his first, long-awaited major.

Age: 35 World ranking: 7

Ryder Cups: 1991, 93

Record: P8, W4, H0, L4

Tom Lehman

Devout Christian from Minnesota whose interests are listed as the unlikely combination of "hunting and church activities". It has taken Lehman time to come through: he turned professional in 1982 but spent years playing mini-tours, and won his first tournament in June last year after finishing second behind Olazabal in the Masters. He may be new to Ryder Cup pressures but is equipped with the sort of mental balance that should enable him to cope ably with this week's unique examination.

Age: 36 World ranking: 12

First Ryder Cup

Davis Love III

One down with two to play in the singles two years ago, Davis Love III was the man who turned defeat to Rocca into victory and was credited by many with taking the match-winning point. Also teamed up with Tom Kite to beat Ballesteros and Olazabal in the foursomes. Likely to be one of the stronger players on the US team, especially as his signature shot is a drive of phenomenal length and accuracy - ideally suited to Oak Hill's long, narrow fairways.

Age: 31 World ranking: 17

Ryder Cups: 1993

Record: P4, W2, H0, L2

Phil Mickelson

Left-handed Ryder Cup rookie whose impressive burst on to the scene had him hailed as the Tiger Woods of his day. He still hasn't hit the big time - third place in last year's US PGA is as big as it has got - though the expectations remain. Blessed with a magnificent touch around the green and is no worse on it, skills which will produce birdies and therefore make him an ideal fourball partner. He may not be as strong on the foursomes, as he is more of a mortal on the tee and can hit it off-line.

Age: 25 World ranking: 26

First Ryder Cup

Jay Haas

Journeyman American who has been on the Tour since 1977, never achieving great things - though he led the Masters after three rounds this year - but has made a career of respectability. His game reflects his career: no particular strengths but solid all round, a steadiness which makes him an ideal partner in fourballs or foursomes. His only previous Ryder Cup was in 1983, when he lost to Nick Faldo in the singles but struck up a successful partnership with Curtis Strange.

Age: 41 World ranking: 30

Ryder Cups: 1983

Record: P4 W2 H1 L1

Jeff Maggert

One of the new breed on the American tour: solid, unflappable and with a mechanical game that handles the pressure well and rarely veers from reliability. As with Haas, these attributes do not win competitions - Maggert has only one Tour victory to his name - but make for an ideal partner in fourballs and foursomes. His demeanour, allied to a record of consistency in the majors, suggest that he is one of the Ryder Cup debutants who will enter the competition boiling-pot and barely notice the heat.

Age: 31 World ranking: 32

First Ryder Cup

Loren Roberts

The oldest of the American team's five Ryder Cup debutants, Roberts took a long time to establish himself in the game. It was not until last March that this quiet Californian won his first tournament on the US Tour, at Bay Hill, and three months later he was in a three-way play-off for the US Open with Ernie Els and Colin Montgomerie. Improvement in world standings has continued this year - he won again at Bay Hill - and he is developing a reputation as a putter of considerable expertise.

Age: 40 World ranking: 19

First Ryder Cup

Ben Crenshaw

Crenshaw gave golf its tear-jerker of the year when he holed out at Augusta, the emotion escaping from him as he dedicated his second Masters title to Harvey Penick, his coach of 37 years, who had died the previous Sunday. The victory came 11 years after his previous Masters and 22 years after his first US Tour event. An outstanding putting stroke has survived, as has his gentlemanly demeanour and popularity. Will be keen to better a poor Cup record.

Age: 43 World ranking: 25

Ryder Cups: 1981, 83, 87

Record: P9 W3 H1 L5

Peter Jacobsen

The joker in the team, whose impersonations of other golfers' swings - probably the European players' - will lighten an otherwise serious American locker-room. He doesn't swing too badly himself - distance is his forte - and he is having his best year. Back trouble plagued him during the late 1980s, when he became more television commentator than golfer; that situation is now reversed, and he is no longer vertebrally troubled, as consecutive victories at the start of the season made clear.

Age: 41 World ranking: 21

Ryder Cups: 1985

Record: P3 W1 H0 L2

Brad Faxon

Another of the robotic Americans programmed to fire at the flag all day long and never flinch under pressure. His strength is his putting but he showed he can play all the shots when really required at the US PGA in Los Angeles. With a low-scoring final round necessary for him to qualify for the American team, he delivered a score of 63. Another of the team's Ryder Cup debutants, he showed potential for match-play in winning three out of four matches on his only Walker Cup appearance.

Age: 34 World ranking: 31

First Ryder Cup

Fred Couples

The obvious choice for one of Lanny Wadkins's two wild cards, Couples is a player of experience and immense class. His laid-back approach disguising reserves of determination will benefit an otherwise inexperienced line-up. His weakness at present is back trouble, which forced him to take three months off last year and surfaced again this year to force his withdrawal from the Open. His strength is his big- hitting, which earned him the moniker "Boom-boom" before John Daly arrived to make him look lightweight.

Age: 35 World ranking: 8

Ryder Cups: 1989, 91, 93

Record: P12 W3 H3 L6

Curtis Strange

Despite the strength that his experience brings to the team, Strange was not an obvious wild-card choice - Lee Janzen was more likely - particularly as he has not won a Tour event since 1989. That triumph, though, will have been at the forefront of Wadkins's thinking as it was in the US Open and, more significantly, at Oak Hill. When announcing his team, Wadkins said Strange had the "heart and guts of men like Watson and Floyd". What Strange also has in common with Floyd is a rather poor Ryder Cup record.

Age: 40 World ranking: 61

Ryder Cups: 1983, 85, 87, 89

Record: P17 W6 H2 L9

Europe Compiled by Owen Slot

The captain: Bernard Gallacher

Gallacher has lost both his Ryder Cups as captain and after the last one he decided to call it a day. He was irked at the time by criticism of his captaincy, in particular his decision to drop Seve Ballesteros from the Saturday fourballs, even though Ballesteros himself had asked to be left out. What hurt him particularly was the fact that Tony Jacklin, Europe's previous, successful, captain joined the dissenters. He was persuaded to come back for one last try, though, after a touching show of support from his players and then a unanimous decision by the European Ryder Cup committee. He differs from Jacklin in style: Jacklin was an autocrat who would follow his instincts; Gallacher sees it as his job to consult opinions and act accordingly. This explains why he insists that the captaincy is an overstated position and he is really just a team spokesman.

Age: 46

Ryder Cups as player: 1969, 71, 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, 83

Playing record: P31, W13, H5, L13

Ryder Cups as captain: 1991, 93. Record as captain: P2 W0 L2

Colin Montgomerie

Probably the most in-form of all the Europeans, and resilient too. Two weeks after losing a play-off for the recent US PGA Championship, he was winning the German Open. Well-known for the odd on-course explosion, but while a few people have had to run for cover, he is as big on bravery as he is bad of temper. At 16 stone he is not a picture of athleticism, and while his swing is no work of art, he is an exceptional driver of the ball and one of the best putters around.

Age: 32 World ranking: 6

Ryder Cups: 1991, 93

Record: P8, W4, H2, L2

Bernhard Langer

One of the most reliable Europeans, though his impressive Ryder Cup record has been largely overlooked as he is the poor unfortunate who struck the most famous missed putt in the Cup's history. It would have come back home from Kiawah Island in 1991 had Langer, with the last shot of the competition, not let a short one drift right. Kiawah Island plus three attacks of the yips would have finished most people; reserves of resilience equip Langer for the fight.

Age: 38 World ranking: 5

Ryder Cups: 1981, 83, 85, 87, 89, 91, 93

Record: P29, W13, H5, L11

Sam Torrance

Is hugely motivated by the Ryder Cup and always seems to produce the goods in Cup years. His problem is that he appears to leave the goods behind for the competition itself, as his appalling Cup record confirms. One of his few Ryder Cup successes was sinking the 20-foot putt in 1985 which sealed Europe's victory, while one of his more regrettable failures was sleep-walking into a flower-pot in his hotel room two years ago and injuring his toe so badly he pulled out of the match.

Age: 42 World ranking: 23

Ryder Cups: 1981, 83, 85, 87, 89, 91, 93

Record: P23, W4, H6, L13

Costantino Rocca

Two years ago he missed a two-footer on the 17th and turned victory over Davis Love III into defeat. Plans to legislate Italy out of Europe have come to nothing and the fall-guy of 1993 is determined to prove himself. He is a feel player who struggles when he is off. However, he won hearts at the Open at St Andrews this year with a marvellous cameo on the final 18th (long putt, collapse to ground, ground thumped, tears shed) before losing in the play-off.

Age: 38 World ranking: 33

Ryder Cups: 1993

Record: P2, W0, H0, L2

Severiano Ballesteros

Hugely inspirational team member who, according to Gallacher, has been talking about this Ryder Cup from the day the last one finished. But has been struggling with his game (he has perfected a shot that starts out left and keeps going left) and though he has won three times in 15 months - something only Langer and Montgomerie have bettered in Europe - before this year's Open he missed four cuts. Will lament absence of his injured partner Jose Maria Olazabal.

Age: 38 World ranking: 15

Ryder Cups: 1979, 83, 85, 87, 89, 91, 93

Record: P34, W19, H5, L10

David Gilford

Extremely steady player whose unflappable demeanour, allied to an ability to avoid mistakes, makes him ideal for foursomes and fourballs. Had an unhappy time in 1991 when he was the player withdrawn from the singles after Steve Pate had dropped out of the American team through injury and was instead left to treasure the memory of the 7 and 6 defeat Paul Azinger and Mark O'Meara inflicted on himself and Faldo - the biggest foursomes loss in Ryder Cup history.

Age: 29 World ranking: 54

Ryder Cups: 1991

Record: P3, W0, H1, L2

Mark James

At his second Ryder Cup, in 1979, James was fined for "immature behaviour" - missing team meetings, refusing to be photographed and trying to avoid wearing team uniform. Since then he has become an establishment figure - he chairs the tournament players' committee - and he has developed a huge respect for the competition which cost him a pounds 1,500 fine 16 years ago. But, despite the motivation the Ryder Cup gives him, he has the worst Cup record in the team.

Age: 41 World ranking: 57

Ryder Cups: 1977, 79, 81, 89, 91, 93

Record: P22, W7, H1, L14

Howard Clark

Doughty old fighter back to something like his best this season after trying to change his swing and then suffering from an elbow injury that plagued him for three seasons. Clark is of that fearless breed of golfer who always believes victory awaits him and is thus valuable for morale as well as for his experience. His confidence, however, is not always rewarded: in 1989 he was beaten 8 and 7 by Tom Kite, the biggest ever Ryder Cup singles defeat.

Age: 41 World ranking: 70

Ryder Cups: 1977, 81, 85, 87, 89

Record: P13, W6, H1, L6

Per-Ulrik Johansson

A delayed debut for the young Swede who had looked a Ryder Cup certainty at one stage in 1991, his superb rookie year, when he helped his country to victory in the Alfred Dunhill Cup. Johansson subscribes to national stereotypes: he is quiet, intense and extremely hard-working, the last helping him make his way into the side this year after a severe slump in form in 1993. A good all-round player whose particular strengths are his driving and touch around the greens.

Age: 28 World ranking: 66

First Ryder Cup

Philip Walton

"The last weeks have been hell," the debutant Philip Walton said after the German Open recently, when his position as 10th qualifier was confirmed. During the German Open he was waking up at all hours, so scared was he of missing tee-off time, and was cleaning his teeth with mineral water to avoid contracting a bug and having to withdraw. The Irishman's care is understandable given his failure to qualify in 1989 when he was ranked 11th. Since then he is improved on the greens thanks to his long putter.

Age: 33 World ranking: 108

First Ryder Cup

Nick Faldo

The Ryder Cup puts a spring into the step of even the game's most famous melancholic. He has been chosen this year as one of Gallacher's two wild cards thanks to his decision to join the US Tour, and though he has had modest pickings from this year's majors, even when playing beneath himself he is still one of the best. Two years ago he started a promising duet with Montgomerie which, if continued, should be a phenomenal force given Monty's elevated status in the game.

Age: 38 World ranking: 3

Ryder Cups: 1977, 79, 81, 83, 85, 87, 89, 91, 93

Record: P36, W19, H4, L13

Ian Woosnam

The German Open four weeks ago was stressful for Woosnam. With the wild cards destined for Faldo and Olazabal, he knew he had to do well to qualify. He didn't, switching back and forth from long to short putter, and he admitted he didn't know what he was up to. Later, he said he would go off and "drink quite a bit" and would not watch the Cup on TV. He is now playing, thanks to Olazabal's injury, and has the credentials: he finished second in the 1989 US Open at Oak Hill.

Age: 37 World ranking: 24

Ryder Cups: 1983, 85, 87, 89, 91, 93

Record: P26, W12, H10, L4