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KITE KEEPING EYE ON CUP HOPEFULS

With just three tournaments remaining before the U.S. Ryder Cup team is selected, team captain Tom Kite is both the most interested observer, and also the least.

"I fought it off for a while, but when I get on a golf course I find myself watching what other players are doing, especially if I'm playing with someone who's in contention for the team," Kite said Wednesday prior to the start of today's Sprint International (4 p.m., ESPN).

"The Ryder Cup is a big distraction. It's been harder as we've gotten closer."

On the other hand, Kite refuses to be unduly influenced by media speculation on the makeup of the team.

"To be honest," he said, "I'm really trying to do my best to not read any articles on the Ryder Cup now.

The top 10 point-getters qualify for the 12-man team, with each team captain making two additional choices. Tiger Woods, Tom Lehman, Justin Leonard and Jim Furyk are locks for the team as the top four qualifiers, but Phil Mickelson, at No. 9, and Davis Love III, at No. 10, are on the bubble.

The Americans will face a European team at Valderrama Golf Club in Cadiz, Spain, on Sept. 26-28.

Last chance starts today

OAKVILLE, Ont. -- Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb, the two most dominant players on the LPGA tour, have done everything except win a major championship this year. Their last chance starts today at the du Maurier Classic (2 p.m., ESPN 2).

But with Nancy Lopez the only player missing from among the top 37 on the money list, challengers will be plentiful. And perhaps none is more formidable than Laura Davies, who won this tournament last year in Edmonton.

Davies played the Jack Nicklaus-designed Glen Abbey Golf Club -- home of the Canadian Open -- several years ago and remembers it as a "long, tough course."

She didn't mention that she reached the 500-yard 18th hole with a driver and a 3-iron.

Glen Abbey should suit her perfectly. The powerful Davies has proven she can handle any course under any weather conditions, such as she did last year in Edmonton when she shot a final-round 66 to beat Lopez.

DePasquale, Smith advance

LOUDONVILLE -- At least one Western New Yorker will play in the final of the New York State Golf Association's junior championships.

Defending champion Tim Smith of East Aurora CC won two matches to reach today's semifinals. He beat Jonathan Bump of Hiawatha Landing, 4 and 3, and then downed Dan Warner of Ives Hill CC, 4 and 3.

Smith's opponent in the semis will be Dan DePasquale of Gowanda CC. DePasquale beat Andrew Burdick of Oneida Community GC, 5 and 4, and then edged Geoff Fountain of Cazenovia CC, 1 up.

The winners of today's semifinals meet this afternoon for the state title.

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