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When he was 25, Mark James swore he'd never be a Ryder Cup captain. Given his reputation at the time, few imagined he'd ever be given the chance to turn it down.

On Wednesday, mellowed by 19 years and 23 career titles, James took the job he once promised never to touch, agreeing to lead the European team as it defends its title against the United States next year.

"I think I said you would have to be mental to want the job," said James, laughing. "But that's what 20 years on the tour will do to you."

James succeeded Spain's Seve Ballesteros, who led the Europeans to victory at Valderrama in 1997. The 44-year-old Englishman had been had been widely expected to get the job over better-known rivals such as former Masters champion Ian Woosnam.

James has played on seven Ryder Cup teams and was Ballesteros' top assistant when the Europeans upset the favored American team last September.

In other golf news, Greg Norman, sidelined by an injured shoulder since April, will participate in November's Skins Game at La Quinta, Calif.

Norman, defending champion Tom Lehman, Masters and British Open champion Mark O'Meara and Fred Couples were chosen Wednesday to participate in this year's event Nov. 28-29. Norman is expected to test his surgically repaired shoulder earlier in November at his own Shark Shootout. Norman, making his third Skins Game appearance, has played in only three PGA Tour events this year.

In other golf news, Lewiston's Tish Certo held the lead after two rounds of the LPGA qualifying tournament at Venice, Fla., shooting 70-69. East Aurora's Adele Snyder shot a 77-76 and missed the cut. The top 30 advance to the next round of qualifying.

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