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Maggert is Ryder member easily He gets automatic berth by firing record-tying 65; PGA notebook

THE BALTIMORE SUN

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Jeff Maggert's chances to win the 79th PGA Championship at Winged Foot ended on the back nine Saturday, when he double-bogeyed the 16th hole to finish with a 3-over 73. He was 1-over for the tournament and eight shots off the lead.

The pressure wasn't off Maggert.

He still needed to finish high enough to make the Ryder Cup team.

"I tried to tell myself not to go out and play for the Ryder Cup team, but try to shoot the lowest score you can," Maggert would say later. "I knew if I did that, the Ryder Cup would be the icing on the cake."

Maggert wound up doing both. His 5-under-par 65, which tied the course record set in the third round by Justin Leonard, helped Maggert finish third in the tournament. It also helped Maggert, who started the week 11th on the Ryder Cup points list, make the team.

Maggert wound up in seventh place on the Ryder standings and claimed one of 10 automatic spots on the team. Ryder Cup captain Tom Kite will announce his two wild-card picks at a news conference here this morning.

"I've played my way onto two Ryder Cup teams without winning a tournament in four years, so I think that speaks volumes of how well I played," said Maggert, 35, who was 2-2 on the U.S. team that lost to Europe at Oak Hill in 1995.

Maggert played his way onto the team with a hot stretch this summer, which included finishing fourth at the U.S. Open in June, second the following week at the Buick Classic and second at Hartford three weeks ago.

Unlike many players, Maggert has admitted that he has thought a great deal of making the Ryder Cup team.

"It's been on my mind for two years," he said. "Since we lost at Oak Hill, I made it a point to myself to try to get back on the team. That was my first Ryder Cup and it was a very heartbreaking loss. I want to experience the Ryder Cup from the other perspective."

Maggert is happy that he isn't on the list of potential captain's choices. Nor does he envy Kite for the decision he'll have to make.

Kite likely will pick Fred Couples with his first captain's choice, though the former Masters champion didn't play well this weekend and finished back in the pack at 6-over-par 286. Others who have been said to be under consideration are Lee Janzen, Tommy Tolles, Paul Stankowski and David Duval.

And Kite.

"I am going to have to go back and evaluate everything," Kite said last night. "I know everything shook down an awful lot. I'll really weigh what happened this week along with what happened during the year. I'll take a good, hard look at everything and make my decision."

Asked about what happened yesterday, Kite said he was happy for those who made the team.

"Jeff [Maggert] made the team and I couldn't be happier for him coming through and finalizing the last spot," Kite said. "I couldn't be happier for Davis and Justin, who are both good friends of mine. It is a good day for me."

Els' good shot

U.S. Open champion Ernie Els did not play well in the tournament, finishing at 10-over 290 after a 70 yesterday. But he did make the week's only hole-in-one. It came on the 190-yard 10th hole.

"I was thinking 5-iron, and my caddie said, 'No, go 6-iron,' " Els said. "I think it was 185 yards downhill so I said, 'OK.' I teed the ball up, made a good swing for a change, maybe the first all week, and it went exactly where I aimed. I was really excited. At least I got one good shot this week."

Woods hobbles in

Masters champion Tiger Woods had his worst finish in a major this year, and yesterday's 5-over 75 didn't help. He shot 39 on the front, including 20 putts, and didn't make a birdie until the 18th hole. Woods finished at 6-over 286, tied for 29th.

After winning by 12 shots at Augusta National, Woods finished tied for 19th at the U.S. Open and tied for 25th at the British Open.

Asked about his feelings of going through his first Grand Slam, Woods said, "It's been hectic. After winning one, the media surge has been incredible. It's been more than I ever expected at such a young age."

It wasn't known whether Woods was hampered by the groin he appeared to pull on the 17th hole Saturday. But he said he hurt his ankle on the fourth hole yesterday.

"It's been something I've been struggling with for a while," he said.

He left the course without comment.

Pub Date: 8/18/97

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