Golf: Ballesteros lays cards on Ryder Cup table: Message from Spain is plain but there is all to play for in the German Open. Tim Glover reports from Dusseldorf

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The Independent Online
SEVE BALLESTEROS appears to know something that everybody else suspected a long time ago. He and his compatriot Jose-Maria Olazabal, who have dovetailed so smoothly against the Americans since 1987, will play in the 30th Ryder Cup at The Belfry in a month's time.

Neither Spaniard can qualify on merit and would therefore have to be two of Bernard Gallacher's three wild cards if they are to make the 12-strong team. Gallacher, the captain, does not reveal his hand until next Monday, after the conclusion of the Volvo German Open at the Hubbelrath club here, the last event to carry Ryder Cup points.

Gallacher's hand appears to be partially tied and there was no loosening of the knot yesterday when Sam Torrance withdrew from this championship, still suffering from an injury he sustained while sleep-walking at The Belfry last week.

'I hope the Americans have kept the Cup clean for us,' Ballesteros said, dropping the first of a host of hints. 'I know Europe can win. There is no doubt in my mind. I want to be there and I want to enjoy everything from that victory.' Ballesteros has considerable influence when it comes to the Ryder Cup and he has Gallacher's ear. 'I know what is going on,' Ballesteros said, 'but I promised Bernard not to say anything. It's confidential.'

Ballesteros, who is 40th in the Cup table and hopelessly adrift, is playing here; Olazabal, 10th in the table, is not. He played in Colorado last week, missed the cut and decided to return home. Gallacher spoke to him in America and tried, in vain, to get him to play in Germany. Then Gallacher rang Ballesteros and asked him if he could try and change Olazabal's mind.

Ballesteros tried and failed. 'Jose- Maria told me he needed to rest,' Ballesteros said, 'so he can come back fresh and strong. I think he has made the right decision.' If Olazabal had made the top nine, thus qualifying automatically, it would have given Gallacher more leeway.

Ballesteros, who has had three weeks off, the first of which he spent in bed suffering from bronchitis, teamed up with Olazabal after the Open Championship at Royal St George's and played a match against Tom Watson, the US captain, and Payne Stewart at Ballesteros's home course at Pedrena. The Spaniards won 4 and 3. 'Our co-ordination was fantastic,' Ballesteros said. 'It's always been like that.' Their record in the Ryder Cup in fourballs and foursomes is undeniably impressive: won 9, halved 2, lost one.

Torrance, who has played in six successive Ryder Cup matches, hit a few balls at Wentworth before coming to the painful conclusion that he could not play in Dusseldorf. 'It's a desperate thing to happen at this time,' Torrance said. He is eighth in the reckoning but could be knocked out of the top nine by Sunday evening. Torrance will be glued to his television set this week and, probably for the first time in his life, will be willing certain colleagues to miss putts.

Torrance stayed at The Belfry - the scene of his greatest Ryder Cup moment when he sank the winning putt in 1985 - for the English Open at the Forest of Arden last week. On the eve of the tournament he went sleep-walking and crashed into a flower pot, badly bruising his chest. He pulled out of the English Open after one round. He is receiving physiotherapy and infra-red treatment but has been told he may not be able to play for three weeks.

Torrance, who has won three tournaments this season, one more than anybody else, bumped into Gallacher at Wentworth yesterday morning. Torrance, who celebrated his 40th birthday on Tuesday, could not get the ball off the ground.

As one Scotsman to another, Gallacher naturally could not give Torrance any assurances. 'There are no guarantees in this business,' the captain said. 'It will go to the last minute and I won't make my decisions until I know who the top nine are.'

In theory, any one of 13 players could win sufficient money from the pounds 650,000 prize fund to elbow their way into the top nine. For example, it is mathematically possible for David Feherty, were he to win the top purse of pounds 108,330 and those ahead of him slipped up, to leapfrog from 24th place to ninth.

Sandy Lyle is making a belated effort to catch the captain's eye because he does not have his ear. Gallacher and Lyle do not appear to be a duo. 'I haven't heard a whisper,' Lyle said. 'I hope at least I will be considered. A good solid performance would help.'

All the contenders can be grateful for one thing. Vijay Singh, the defending champion, is not defending. The Fijian won on the Hubbelrath course last year by 11 strokes at 26 under par. The club will not want their course manhandled again. 'I'll be happy with 11 under,' Lyle said.

----------------------------------------------------------------- CARD OF THE COURSE ----------------------------------------------------------------- Hole Yards Par Hole Yards Par 1st 414 4 10th 369 4 2nd 435 4 11th 221 3 3rd 359 4 12th 481 5 4th 137 3 13th 386 4 5th 315 4 14th 192 3 6th 562 5 15th 427 4 7th 209 3 16th 394 4 8th 492 5 17th 572 5 9th 400 4 18th 411 4 Out: 3,323 36 In: 3,453 36 Total: 6,776 72 -----------------------------------------------------------------

EUROPEAN RYDER CUP STANDINGS

(GB or IRL unless otherwise stated)

One point for every pounds 1 won)

1 Nick Faldo 513,022.50pts

2 Colin Montgomerie 451,988.08

3 Bernhard Langer (Ger) 412,108.98

4 Ian Woosnam 374,938.12

5 Costantino Rocca (It) 371,257.25

6 Barry Lane 369,382.75

7 Mark James 345,385.08

8 Sam Torrance 326,929.20

9 Peter Baker 306,209.17

10 Jose Maria Olazabal (Sp) 282,488.14

11 Ronan Rafferty 276,575.99

12 Mark Roe 270,965.74

13 Joakim Haeggman (Swe) 267,683.43

14 Paul Broadhurst 262,856.84

15 Anders Forsbrand (Swe) 261,223.26

16 Steven Richardson 252,636.24

17 Jamie Spence 242,343.31

18 Gordon Brand Jnr 236,623.93

19 David Gilford 224,498.57

20 Jesper Parnevik (Swe) 222,062.65.

21 Jim Payne 214,307.34

22 Sandy Lyle 210,078.18

23 Miguel Angel Jimenez (Sp) 206,324.57

24 David Feherty 205,998.17

Top nine in standings qualify by right for inclusion in the team to face United States

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