Golf: Assistants to the four for Pavin

UNITED States captain Corey Pavin has defended his decision to appoint four vice-captains for this year's Ryder Cup match at Celtic Manor.

Pavin, charged by the PGA of America with defending the cup regained by predecessor Paul Azinger at Valhalla in 2008, must become the first American captain since Tom Watson at The Belfry in 1993 to win the Ryder Cup on European soil and he has chosen Tom Lehman, Jeff Sluman, Davis Love III and Paul Goydos as the men to help him achieve that goal.

Azinger chose three assistants in Olin Browne, Raymond Floyd and Dave Stockton to get the job done on home soil in Kentucky two years ago, but Pavin said he would feel more comfortable with a quartet on his staff when Team USA lands in South Wales in October.

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"I don't think it's necessary to have four, I think it's better for me," Pavin said after announcing the vice-captains at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles last night.

"With four I can have one go with each match. With three you lose that chance.

"I want to know what's going on and the more sets of eyes watching, there's more feedback and hopefully I'll make good decisions.

"The number of four is basically because there's four matches on Friday and Saturday. Each round I want eyes on each match.

"I can't watch everybody, and I want guys that can. It seems like four is better than three and five is too much.

"Maybe we'll have 12 one of these years, one assistant for every player. But I think it's a good number. It kind of allows everybody not to have to do too much, but it allows them to focus on players that need to be focused on."

PAUL LAWRIE and Richie Ramsay were both on course for encouraging starts in the Dubai Desert Classic today.

Former Open champion Lawrie was two-under - just two off the lead - after 15 holes while Ramsay was on the same mark with five holes to play.

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David Drysdale was one-over after 17 holes, but Alastair Forsyth was well down the field on six-over with one to play. Stephen Gallacher was among the later starters in the opening round.

• LLOYD SALTMAN had a costly quadruple-bogey 8 on his card as the first-round leader shot a 77 to slip eight shots off the lead going into the final round of the Hi5 Pro Tour's Valle del Este Open in Spain. His older brother, Elliot was also on 141 following a second- round 71.