Golf: Coltart failure is worrying for Ryder Cup

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The Independent Online
ANDREW COLTART returned home to London yesterday afternoon as the only member of Europe's magnificent seven Ryder Cup players to miss the cut in the Lancome Trophy. As this is the last event before the team's departure for Boston by Concorde on Monday this might cause some concern, but there are extenuating circumstances for the Scot.

"I played terribly," Coltart said. After a 75 to finish at five over par he could hardly say anything else. Should he take the same form over to the Country Club at Brookline this week, the gamble by the captain, Mark James, in making Coltart a controversial wild card selection will have failed.

But a weekend with his week-old baby daughter Bonnie is probably as good a preparation as anything else. For the last two weeks his mind has, naturally, been on other things and Coltart was not concerned at his performance.

"I never expected to come here and be in contention to win," he said. "This is normal for me after a couple of weeks off. But it was good to come here and get back into competitive golf.

"You can go to the driving range at home, but you only get a feel for how you are playing out here. You have to get the right rhythm back and I'm two days closer to that than before I arrived."

Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of his few days away from the family was the dinner on Thursday evening for all the Cup players hosted by James and with a special appearance by Seve Ballesteros, the man who has fired many of Europe's recent Ryder Cup victories but who will be absent from Brookline.

"It was good to get the guys together and have a bit of a laugh," Coltart said.

As well as stories from previous matches, there was talk of past days on the Safari tour. "The young guys these days don't know how lucky they are," said Jose Maria Olazabal.

A form doubt himself, the Spaniard secured his first cut qualification since June with a 70 to be four under, six behind countryman Miguel Angel Jimenez.

The suggestion has been that the 33-year Ollie might be rested from the foursomes due to his erratic driving but he is not expecting anything different from his previous five Ryder Cups when he played all five series each time. "I'm ready," he said. "I'm old, but not that old."

Jimenez, the defending champion, took the half-way lead with a second- round 64. But for Colin Montgomerie, normal service lasted only 27 holes here as he came home in 37. From briefly leading, the Scot fell back to third place, level with team-mate Jarmo Sandelin and one behind Gary Evans after he bogeyed the par-three last by hitting his tee shot into the pond on the right.

Sandelin, the extrovert Swede who bought a pounds 700 belt in Milan last week as part of his Ryder Cup preparations, shot a 66 and said he "had a very good feeling being a part of the team" after the dinner the previous night.

"I think the team is going to come together nicely," Sandelin said. "The team spirit is the most important thing. I've never had dinner with Jarmo before," said Montgomerie. "He's quite a character but then there are a few in the team with Jean Van de Velde, Sergio [Garcia] and Parnevik, and Olazabal gets fired up for these situations. I don't know how I fit in, I just try and win my matches."

Evans, a former Walker Cup player, who matched Jimenez's 64, declared his support for the team. "I think there has been a lot of rubbish talked about the team," he said. "Mark James is right when he says experience doesn't mean much. I think we'll kill them. Sergio put the frighteners on them at the USPGA."

Scores, Digest, page 26

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