Originally created 08/15/97

Kite not ruling himself out for Ryder Cup

MAMARONECK, N.Y. (AP) - Tom Kite's job as captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team would be so much easier if someone not already in the top 10 would only show him a game strong enough to perform in pressure situations.

What keeps making it tougher is someone is doing just that - Kite.

Earlier this year, he said picking himself for the team would be tantamount to hitting a 2-iron over water from a downhill lie.

"Well, now I stuck a tee under the ball," Kite said Thursday after shooting a 2-under-par 68 in the first round of the PGA Championship. "I haven't eliminated anybody from the selection process."

One good round on a Winged Foot course that played probably the easiest it will all week is no reason to consider a player who, despite winning a U.S. Open and playing on seven Ryder Cup teams, hasn't won since 1993.

But Kite, despite dealing with the distractions of being captain, has played well this year, especially in the majors.

He finished second behind Tiger Woods at the Masters - albeit by 12 strokes - and tied for 10th at the British Open at Royal Troon last month.

"I'm playing good right now," he said. "I feel confident with my swing. I'm putting well, I'm chipping well, I'm hitting good shots."

Kite has said he is having a tough time sleeping through the night because of the multitude of choices he has in filling out the team that he has to choose by Monday.

He had different thoughts when his sleep was interrupted Wednesday night.

"All of a sudden, I realized I was hitting the ball quite well," Kite said. "And if you're going to come into a major championship on a golf course this difficult, hitting the ball as well as I'm hitting it right now, you might as well go ahead and try to do something with it, try to win the tournament."

The last U.S. captain to play in the Ryder Cup was Arnold Palmer in 1963, a year before he won the last of his four Masters.

The obligations of being a captain are taxing - schedules, uniforms, paying attention to who's playing well and who's not.

Lanny Wadkins played in 20 events in 1995, the year he was appointed captain. He made only eight cuts, finished in the top 10 only once and was 162nd on the money list.

"I was very much aware of what Lanny was going through," Kite said. "Watching how he played while he was the captain, I had made up my mind that I was going to fight through that and try to play the best golf I could."

There was some incentive involved, too. Kite had a hunch this team would be loaded with young players. The only way to see them in tournament conditions was to play with them, and the only way to play with them was to get into contention.

The trouble for Kite has been that all the young talent is already on the team. With one tournament left - a major, at that - he needs someone to raise his game.

And his own play isn't helping.

"We call it a short list, but for this late date, my list is still long," Kite said. "And throwing my name in there makes it even longer."


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