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Ryder debate angers Crenshaw

He's known as Gentle Ben, but the U.S. Ryder Cup team captain had harsh words for those who believe they should be paid. Ben Crenshaw is firmly against the idea, and said he was disappointed in the attitudes of several players.

"When you can't show up and can't play for your country when that's not enough that's when my heart bleeds," Crenshaw said Wednesday. "People are sick of issues like this. They're tired of hearing about this stuff. Every time you pick up the newspaper, it's about money in sports. It's sick."

Crenshaw didn't name names, but he was clearly annoyed that players such as Tiger Woods, David Duval and Mark O'Meara have come out in favor of being compensated for the Ryder Cup, a biennial competition that matches a U.S. team against one from Europe.

Although most of the U.S. players have added that they would donate their earnings to charity, the topic has been hot for several weeks, ever since Duval told Golf Digest that players might consider skipping the Ryder Cup in the future if they don't receive a cut of the huge revenue generated by the event.

The players met with PGA of America officials on Tuesday to discuss the situation, and it was later announced that "everyone is on the same page." Clearly, however, they are not.

"I'm personally disappointed in a couple people in that meeting," Crenshaw said. "I mean that. And they know who they are. Whether some players like it or not, there are some people who came before them that mean a hell of a lot to this game. And it burns the hell out of me to listen to some of their viewpoints."

ON THE HOT SEAT: Crenshaw isn't sharing any secrets on which two players he might spend his captain's picks, but he did make one thing clear.

"There are a few players on the hot seat, so to speak," he said. "They need to step up this week."

European captain Mark James said he won't let age or experience stand in the way. That could be good news for 19-year-old Sergio Garcia and bad news for struggling Nick Faldo.

"A Faldo playing well would be a huge asset to the side," James said, then noted that "he hasn't been playing very well."

NEW FORMAT: Starting next year, the PGA Championship will change its playoff format. Rather than sudden death, the PGA will be decided by a three-hole aggregate playoff, similar to the format used by the British Open. Next year's PGA Championship will be played at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville.

That means each of the four major championships will decide playoffs in a different manner. The Masters uses sudden death, the U.S. Open has an 18-hole Monday playoff, the British Open uses a four-hole rotation.

"We believe this is a fair test of PGA Championship participants enabling all golfers involved in the championship playoff the opportunity to post the best number," PGA of America president Will Mann said. "We also think that this will help eliminate the element of luck that sometimes occurs in a playoff situation."

THE PURSE: The PGA Championship purse was announced, with $3.5-million being paid out, up from $3-million last year. The winner will receive $630,000, with $378,000 going to the second-place finisher and $238,000 going to third place. A finish of eighth or better means a minimum of $100,000.

_ BOB HARIG, TIMES WIRES

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