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DiMarco and Riley play their way into Ryder Cup

By virtue of their high finishes in the PGA Championship on Sunday, Chris DiMarco and Chris Riley earned spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. U.S. Captain Hal Sutton will announce his captainís choices Monday morning.

HAVEN, Wis. (AP) -- Chris DiMarco and Chris Riley faced knee-knocking pressure in the last round of the PGA Championship. And what did they get for their efforts?

More of the same.

DiMarco and Riley played themselves into the pressure-packed Ryder Cup Matches with their performances Sunday in the year's final major. DiMarco finished second after a three-man, three-hole playoff and Riley was fourth -- good enough to knock Jay Haas and Steve Flesch out of the top 10 in the Ryder Cup point standings.

Justin Leonard needed to win the tournament to make the team, but he missed a 12-foot putt on No. 18 to win in regulation and he couldn't manage a birdie on the extra holes. Vijay Singh won his third career major when he made his first birdie of the day on the first extra hole, No. 10, and it stood up as they played the 17th and 18th.

That left Fred Funk on the team, and a handful of others hoping Hal Sutton chooses them with one of his two captain's picks.

"It's out of my hands now. I had my chance and I didn't play that well this week," Flesch said. "I'm tired of hearing about it. I can't wait until he makes his two picks and it's over."

DiMarco made two double-bogeys on the final round at the 2001 PGA Championship, four strokes that kept him from making the U.S. team that year. He only needed an eighth-place tie to make it this year, so all he was playing for in the extra holes was his first major title.

After hitting his 6-iron onto the green at No. 18, "I looked at my caddie and said, 'That's good enough, for sure,"' DiMarco said. "I'm proud of myself that I went out and did it."

Riley, 30, is expecting his first child on Sept. 17. When he missed a four-foot putt on the 18th, he figured he would be home with his family when the Ryder Cup starts. But he made the team when Leonard didn't.

"It's gut-wrenching coming down to the end," Riley said. "But this is what it's all about: I'm playing in a major championship with Phil Mickelson in the second-to-last group. ... I really am proud of myself. To finish fourth in a major championship -- it's pretty amazing."

The Ryder Cup race has been called the tournament within a tournament and, in the end, it was almost as exciting as the main one. Flesch, who entered the tournament ninth in the standings, and Haas, who was 10th, were the big losers in the wild scramble that determined the majority of the team that will play at Oak Hill in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., on Sept. 14-19.

Seven players had clinched a spot regardless of what happened at the year's final major: Tiger Woods, Mickelson, Davis Love III, Jim Furyk, Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell. With 300 points at stake for a victory in the PGA Championship, anyone in the top 46 was within range of making the team; 24 of them needed to win outright.

Jeff Maggert, who was 13th in the standings and needing to move up, withdrew because his wife gave birth to twins. By Sunday, after cuts and withdrawals, there were 17 players left in contention for the three spots up for grabs.

Stewart Cink needed a sixth place and finished 17th. Scott Verplank needed to finish ninth and came in 62nd. Todd Hamilton needed a seventh and got a 37th. Leonard, Briny Baird, Ben Crane, J.L. Lewis, Arron Oberholser, Shaun Micheel and Bob Tway needed to win and didn't.

Jerry Kelley was 11th in the standings coming into the tournament and missed the cut.

They're all candidates for the captain's picks.

Leonard will get consideration for his performance this week, and Sutton certainly remembers the 45-foot putt Leonard made to help the United States rally from a 10-6 deficit on the final day to win the 1999 Ryder Cup in Brookline, Mass. But that highlight aside, Leonard's performance in the Cup isn't very good; he is 0-3-5 in his career there.

Haas, 50, would be the second-oldest player ever picked for the team. He last played in the Ryder Cup in '95 at Oak Hill. His was the deciding match, and he popped up his tee shot on his way to making bogey, losing to Philip Walton and giving Europe the win.

Verplank will also get consideration. He is the eighth American in the world rankings -- the highest-ranked U.S. player who isn't already on the team. Last time, he was the first captain's pick who had never played on a Ryder Cup team.

Sutton himself missed the cut at Whistling Straits. He spent the last two days in his hotel room watching the tournament on television with the volume turned down.

"I just hope one day doesn't change the way the captain's thought for two years," said Verplank, who went from 6-under to 1-under after twisting an ankle on Friday. "By any measure other than the Ryder Cup points, I'm one of the top 10 Americans -- easily."

Copyright (c)2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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