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It's time Larry Nelson captained Ryder Cup

His record is 9-3-1 and he is the only player to go 5-0 at the Ryder Cup. Throw in three major championships, including two PGAs, and it is difficult to imagine how Larry Nelson never was named a U.S. Ryder Cup team captain.

The snub still stings, but Nelson has put it behind him. The winner of 10 PGA Tour titles and another 18 on the Champions Tour, who didn't take up golf until age 21 after returning from Vietnam, is far too classy to complain.

But now Nelson's name is in the mix again. After the drubbing the Americans took at Oakland Hills, there is a movement among past captains to get Nelson, 57, appointed to the position he should have gotten years ago.

Although Nelson doesn't fit the PGA of America's mold of a mid to late 40s captain who still competes on the PGA Tour, the thinking is that it would be better to have a captain who is a bit more detached from today's current crop of players. Let's face it, the current formula isn't working, with the United States having lost five of the last seven Ryder Cups.

"Our idea is a (captain who commands) more respect," Lanny Wadkins told GolfWorld. "When players aren't as close to him, they might stop and listen sometimes."

Wadkins captained the losing '95 team but played on a winning 1977 team that was captained by Dow Finsterwald, who no longer was playing on the PGA Tour.

The other candidates are still playing, and the thought has always been that it would be good to have somebody still in touch. Paul Azinger, Mark O'Meara, Tom Lehman, Fred Couples and Corey Pavin are among those being mentioned for 2006 in Ireland.

The perfect time for Nelson was in 1997, when the matches were played in Spain and the European captain was Seve Ballesteros _ whom Nelson had beaten several times in Ryder Cup play. Maybe his time will come after all.

IRONMAN VIJAY: The withdrawal this week from the American Express Championship by Vijay Singh is good news for the Chrysler Championship. Although Singh finished second to Retief Goosen here last year and plays a hefty schedule, there was no guarantee he would be at the Westin Innisbrook Resort at the end of next month.

Consider Singh's schedule. He has played in a whopping 26 PGA Tour events, including Sunday's victory at the 84 Lumber Classic. The winner of eight tour titles who has set the PGA Tour earnings record this season, Singh was to play in Ireland this week, followed by next week's Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland and the World Match Play Championship in England.

Then he is scheduled to defend his Funai Championship title Oct. 21-24 at Disney World. That would have been five straight tournaments, followed by the Chrysler Championship and the Tour Championship. It would have been very easy for him to skip the Innisbrook event.

Now Singh has just three chances _ Funai Championship, Chrysler Championship and Tour Championship _ to win at least twice more for 10 tour victories this season. No player has won that many in a year since Sam Snead won 11 in 1950. Tiger Woods won nine times in 2000.

Among the commitments to the Chrysler Championship are past major championship winners Paul Azinger, Rich Beem, Mark Brooks, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Lee Janzen, Bernhard Langer, Justin Leonard, Shaun Micheel and Mike Weir. For more information, call (727) 942-5566 or visit

GOLDEN BEAR DUAL: A couple Tampa Bay area golfers battled for the title at last weekend's Golden Bear Tour Championship in West Palm Beach. Tampa's Akio Sadakata, 25, edged St. Petersburg's Dan Stone by two strokes to claim the title in the 54-hole mini-tour event. Sadakata, who played the PGA Tour in 2003 but lost his playing card, won $60,000. Stone took home $28,000 from the $306,000 purse. Both will attempt to earn their PGA Tour cards this fall at the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament.

"It's a very big thrill and it should give me confidence going back to try and get on the PGA Tour next year," said Sadakata, a native of Japan who finished 206th on the PGA Tour money list in 2003 with $107,730.

LOCALLY: Clearwater's John Huston is defending his title at this week's Southern Farm Bureau Classic. Huston has not played since the PGA Championship because of a nagging foot injury. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome, 18, begins the process of trying to get on the LPGA Tour next week at Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice. The top 30 players and ties in the 72-hole event that begins Tuesday advance to LPGA final qualifying Dec. 1-5 in Daytona Beach. Tampa's Beth Bauer will have to return to the LPGA Qualifying Tournament if she is unable to crack the top 90 money winners after next week's tournament in North Augusta, S.C. Bauer is 97th on the money list with $78,572. If she is not among the top 90, Bauer will have conditional status next year, but can improve her position at the qualifying tournament.

Information from other news organizations was used in the report.

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