Gallacher's Ryder Cup outlook is bleak

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The Independent Online

The odds against Europe winning the Ryder Cup against the United States in upstate New York next month are lengthening by the day. "All I want," Colin Montgomerie said, "is to be part of the strongest possible European side. It's not looking very clever at the moment."

Bernhard Langer, who leads Europe's Cup standings from Montgomerie, has withdrawn from the fourth and last major of the season, the US PGA championship, which starts at the Riviera Country Club here tomorrow. Langer is suffering from the recurrence of a back injury.

David Gilford, sixth in the Cup pecking order, has also pulled out. Gilford prefers Crewe to California and he, too, is receiving treatment to his back. As for Mark Roe, who faces possible disciplinary action for alleged unprofessional conduct during the final round of the Scandinavian Masters, he forgot to enter the US PGA.

The American team will be finalised here on Monday after the championship, and Europe's 12 will be determined after the Volvo German Open on 27 August. However, the picture is becoming increasingly blurred for Bernard Gallacher, Europe's captain. Like his American counterpart, Lanny Wadkins, he has only two wild cards at his disposal. The leading 10 automatically qualify.

The problem for Gallacher is that two of his blue chip contenders, Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo, may not get in on merit. Woosnam is 12th and Faldo is 16th, and Gallacher must be praying that one or both have a successful week here. The same goes for Jose-Maria Olazabal. In 10th place, he is on the cusp but the odds are that the Spaniard, still limping from a foot injury, will be overtaken before the end of the August deadline.

Olazabal, who has dovetailed so effectively with Seve Ballesteros in the last four Ryder Cup matches, will not play in any of the remaining events in Europe that carry Ryder Cup points. "He's not making much of an effort," Woosnam said of the Spaniard. Olazabal has only qualified once on merit and has been the captain's choice on three occasions. The worst possible scenario for Gallacher is if he is left to choose two from Woosnam, Faldo and Olazabal. Another player who has entered the equation is Jesper Parnevik. By winning the Scandinavian Masters in his own country on Sunday, Parnevik has moved to 18th in the table.