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Miller Criticizes Pick Of J.B. Holmes

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Johnny Miller still thinks the U.S. will
snap its losing streak to the Europeans, but the outspoken former
PGA Tour star turned commentator isn't a fan of Paul Azinger's four
captain's picks.
Miller called Azinger's selections of Holmes, Hunter Mahan,
Steve Stricker and Chad Campbell "OK," but would have traded
Holmes for a more veteran player like Scott Verplank.
"I certainly wouldn't have gone with J.B. Holmes, I tell you
that," Miller said.
Miller said he would have chosen Verplank, Rocco Mediate, Brandt
Snedeker and 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson over Holmes and
Campbell, but allowed his views are like arguing over favorite ice
cream flavors.
Besides, for all the risk involved with picking lightly
experienced players, Miller said the U.S. team's problems over the
last 13 years have started at the top with Tiger Woods and Phil
Mickelson.
"The great play by (Jim) Furyk, Tiger and Phil has not been
there," Miller said. "It's why the U.S. has done so poorly. Those
three players have really played poorly in Ryder Cup play."
The trio has a combined record of 25-37-8, though Woods will be
watching this year's Cup from home while he rehabs his surgically
repaired left knee. That may be a good thing in Miller's eyes.
"Without Tiger there, it surely isn't going to be easy, but if
you're a gambler or a statistician, you think, 'How can Europe keep
making all these putts?"' Miller said. "It's time for the U.S. If
you're a betting man odds are putting is going to flip flop in the
U.S.'s direction."
---
MISSING THE GREATEST: The man was missing, but the message was
not.
The U.S. team visited the Muhammad Ali Center on Monday night,
but a meeting with the former heavyweight champion and Louisville
native had to be rescheduled when weather prevented Ali and his
wife Lonnie from making the trip from Michigan.
Instead the team toured the center, which opened in 2005 and
traces Ali's life, boxing career and humanitarian efforts. The tour
begins with a brief video about Ali's legacy based on the Rudyard
Kipling poem "If."
"It's about 'What if?' and dreams," Azinger said. "That was
an important message. That's such an important perspective on his
life, and it's so vast; it reaches beyond sports and athletics. The
players loved it. They loved being in there. I just thought it was
a great place to start the week."
It's not the first time a captain has turned to an American icon
to give the team a little boost. Future president George W. Bush
read a note written at The Alamo to the 1999 team before it rallied
to knock off the Europeans at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
Justin Leonard called the visit "inspiring," but doesn't think
the U.S. needs to look outside for encouragement. The team's
lackluster play - losing five of the last six Cups, including some
in embarrassing fashion - is plenty enough.
"I don't think that we as players need that for further
motivation," Leonard said. "The motivation is already there. But
it just adds some memories to the week."
Azinger remains hopeful the team will get a chance to meet Ali
later in the week, and Ali isn't the only luminary Azinger hopes
can bring a little juice to the team. Azinger invited former Notre
Dame coach Lou Holtz to dine with the team on Tuesday.
"He'll probably say a few words. It's hard to get him not to,"
Azinger said.
---
U.S. WINS (JUNIOR) RYDER CUP: The Americans can only hope to
follow the example set by their junior team.
The U.S. romped to a 22-2 victory over Europe in the Junior
Ryder Cup on Tuesday, winning at The Club at Olde Stone in Bowling
Green.
The Americans built on their opening-day success in the foursome
and mixed four-ball matches, winning 11 of the 12 singles points
and earning a halve in the final match.
Cory Whitsett of Houston won his match 6-and-5 over Matteo
Manassero of Italy, and Jeffrey Kang of Fullerton, Calif., defeated
Moritz Lampert of Germany 4-and-3.
"We wanted to play like the matches were zero-to-zero and just
go out there and win as many matches as possible," Whitsett said.
Jeffrey Kang's singles point secured the victory for the U.S.
"We really didn't feel any pressure out there today," Kang
said. "We were able to have fun and play our game."
The American's only other victory came in 1997, when the it was
known as the Junior Match and was not a PGA of America sanctioned
event. The teams will play a nine-hole "friendship" match on
Wednesday at Valhalla, site of the 2008 Ryder Cup.


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