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Sutton Ready for Rest Not Ryder Cup

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- You cant mention the 2004 Ryder Cup without Hal Suttons name surfacing. The 44-year-old is the rumor-mill choice for U.S. captain. But mention it to him and youll get a sly smile and a succinct response.
Thats two years away, he said firmly after his opening-round 67 ' which matched his lowest score of the season ' in the Disney Golf Classic.
For now, Sutton has other things on his mind ' like his play.
The barrel-chested baritone is in the process of wrapping up one of his worst seasons ever as a professional. He shot 71 Friday to make his 11th cut in 26 starts this year, and has yet to record a top-10 finish.
This weeks event will be his last until 2003.
Im working on losing weight, spending time with my kids, he said.
The extra poundage Sutton has accumulated around the waist is due to his sleep apnea, a medial condition in which breathing stops repeatedly during sleep. Sutton is afforded rest by sleeping hooked up to a portable oxygen tank.
He said his sleeping has improved, which has added to his energy level, which, in turn, means its time to get in shape for next season ' his 22nd on the PGA Tour. Hes played at least 25 events since his first full season, in 1982, and has no plans of reducing his schedule.
Ill probably still play 25. At my age you cant play 15 or something like that and stay very competitive. I had to play 25 and havent been very competitive this year, he said.
The highlight of Suttons season was his four-ball victory with Scott Verplank on Day 1 of the Ryder Cup. He competed in only two matches, losing in the singles to Bernhard Langer, 5-and-4.
One of the reasons many believe Sutton will be the perfect captain for 04 is due to his thick skin and palpable patriotic pride.
Curtis Strange, the most recent U.S. captain, was heavily criticized for his Sunday singles line-up, in which he back-loaded his team ' with Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods as the final three men out ' and lost the session, 7 - 4 . Consequently, the Europeans won back the Cup.
I thought Curtis did an excellent job, Sutton said. It was a 14-man decision where everybody went (on Sunday). He and Hubbie (vice captain Mike Hulbert) and all 12 guys ' you know, my name changed four positions while discussing it.
I felt like Curtis was stern when he needed to be and open-minded when he needed to be.
A four-time Ryder Cup member, Sutton is well aware of the slings and arrows fired into the captains lofty perch. He doesnt like the negativity, but hell be ready for it should he be next in line.
Probably the worst part about being captain is youre subject to all kinds of criticism ' everybody second-guesses every decision that you make.
If youre afraid to be second-guessed then you better not make any decisions, cause theres a whole bunch of second-guessers in the world.
But more worrisome than the attacks from armchair golfers is the fact that his country doesnt have the Cup, and its hard for him to explain why.
We need to, as a team, focus a lot more, he tried to explain. We shouldnt lose these things the way we lose them. Theres way too much talent over here.
Full-field scores from the Disney Golf Classic