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Because he is playing this week, too, Paul Azinger knows what his Ryder Cup hopefuls are going through. (Cannon/Getty Images)

Notebook: Ryder Cup hopefuls haven't doomed chances

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U.S. Captain Paul Azinger says he understands how difficult this week is for everyone. Plus, some players had a better time than others, Tom Lehman put some elbow grease into the rain delay, and more.

BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Paul Azinger is playing in the PGA Championship, so he knows how difficult it is to play Oakland Hills.

"It's the hardest course I've ever played," Azinger said after his third-round 76 left him at 14-over 224.

That speaks volumes considering the source, who is playing in his 66th major and has competed in five Ryder Cups and two Presidents Cups.

The top eight players in the Ryder Cup standings after Sunday's final round will get automatic berths for next month's event at Valhalla in Kentucky. Azinger will fill out the rest of the side with four captain's picks to be announced on Sept. 2 in New York City.

Players who struggled at Oakland Hills this week have not doomed their chances, Azinger insisted.

"Doesn't mean anything," he said. "This isn't the Ryder Cup week. We have three weeks to go. I want a guy who is confident and if the guy's confidence is shattered when he left here, join the club."

FUN AT THE TURN: Rocco Mediate and Mark Calcavecchia both birdied the par-3 ninth in the third round, the first time in the tournament all the players in a group left the green with scores under par.

That coupled with a midmorning tee time put them in a good mood on the 10th tee, knowing they would get their round in before the expected storms rolled into the Motor City area.

"Have fun at 9 o'clock!" Calcavecchia shouted to D.J. Trahan, who had a 1:20 p.m. starting time and managed to play four holes before play was suspended for the day.

After Mediate hit his drive, he walked over to Trahan on the practice green to shake his hand and say a few words.

Mediate (72) is 9 over for the tournament and Calcavecchia (76) is 13-over 223.

The ninth hole, which was 220 yards with the forward tee used, was the 14th-toughest hole when play was suspended Saturday after being among the most difficult in the first two rounds.

With wind whipping around the course so hard that a newspaper flew out of somebody's hands near the green, some players struggled at the hole on Saturday.

John Mallinger sent a 3-wood tee shot that was headed for the middle of the green only to sail into the right rough because of a gust of wind. Japan's Hiroyuki Fujita, playing in the same group, used a hybrid only to be disappointed when the wind knocked down his tee shot into the fairway. Both ended up bogeying the hole.

KILLIN' TIME: While play was suspended for over 4 hours, players found anything they could to wait out the weather.

Tom Lehman, who got in seven holes before play was called, said he tried a little bit of everything.

"I spent a lot of time in the fitness trailer; I've got an elbow issue," he said. "So I was warming it up and then I'd go practice, then re-warming it up and then going to practice again. And I was eating, and watching the Olympics, and talking and taking a nap -- I just kind of covered all the bases."

U.S. PRIDE: If an international player wins the PGA Championship, it will the first time Americans didn't win at least half of the majors since 1994.

Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open in June but had knee surgery soon after and didn't play in the British Open, won by Ireland's Padraig Harrington, or the PGA Championship. South Africa's Trevor Immelman won the Masters.

In 1994, South African Nick Price won two majors (PGA Championship and British Open) and Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal (Masters) and South Africa's Ernie Els (U.S. Open) each won one.

COLD CASH: Ernie Els has won the most money in PGA Championships (nearly $1.4 million) without winning the major. He has made the cut in 13 of 16 starts and finished among the top five in three of the last four.

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