Golf: Coltart has to fly clubless class

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HOLIDAY GOLFERS will know the frustration all too well. The clubs mysteriously don't turn up with the rest of the luggage and, when you finally get to the first tee, the head of your driver is in an even worse state than your own.

But when you are playing for a place in the Ryder Cup team, it is a headache you can do without. The European team is finalised on Sunday at the conclusion of the BMW International in Munich and Andrew Coltart would dearly like to be among the 12 players to face the American side announced by Ben Crenshaw on Monday. Were he to make the team, his expectant wife Emma would be induced before his departure for Boston.

But Coltart dropped out of the top-10 automatic qualifying spots following the USPGA at Medinah and, as well as dealing with the jet-lag after getting back from Chicago, the Scot's preparations were disrupted by the lack of the implements to do his job yesterday afternoon.

Both Coltart and Sam Torrance waited around for almost an hour after their morning flight from Heathrow, BA 948, had landed but there was no sign of their clubs. They were promised on a later flight but both players had to withdraw from the pro-am.

Coltart, 29, was less than pleased with "the world's favourite airline". "They might think we bring our clubs because we are on holiday but I have an important job to do this week," Coltart said. Not even flying business class could ensure all his luggage made it. "It's pretty annoying considering the price of the tickets.

"I don't think it's right that they should get away with it scot free. There were a lot of people who didn't get their luggage. At least I've played the course before but I wanted to play and work on my game. Now I can't do either. Who knows what state the clubs will be in when I do get them. Given the current situation, I would like them in my possession."

Eight players are sure of their places. Jean Van de Velde, the French runner-up at The Open, is virtually assured of one of the remaining qualifying spots but 16 players are contending for the other currently held by Sweden's Robert Karlsson.

There are 11,900 points at stake in total this week with almost 2,000 to the winner. If that doesn't mean much, it probably means even less with the knowledge that each point represents 100 euros earned in prize- money. The bottom line is that anyone down to 26th place can still qualify.

For Van de Velde to miss out, Karlsson has to be third, Coltart second and one of the other contenders first. Given how Eamonn Darcy missed out by a tiny margin in 1991 after he had gone fishing, the Frenchman is taking no chances. Jesper Parnevik, on the other hand, decided to stick after rising to 12th place last week and is presumably hoping to be one of Mark James's wild cards after heading to Denver for the Sprint International.

Bernhard Langer would definitely pick the Swede and the German could be the other selection, ahead of Nick Faldo, if he does not qualify. Faldo cannot now qualify and is so far down the rankings, he was listed below Geoff Ogilvy, an Australian. Langer needs to finish third to give himself a chance. The BMW is one of the few home titles Langer has failed to win in a career that shows 10 victories in Germany.

"I like playing at home," Langer said. "There is a lot going on and maybe there is a little more pressure and expectation at home but I think I've handled it pretty well in the past."

As for missing the Ryder Cup for the first time since his debut in 1981, Langer said: "On a scale of one to 10, it would be a 10 or 11." He was reluctant to make his own case for being picked. "It is totally up to the captain who is the best man for the job," Langer said. "I could say I have experience, I've been there many times and I know what it is like to play under pressure and all sorts of things but it is up to Mark James."

James, of course, could still qualify himself with a top-three finish in which case he would either play, and a new captain would be needed, or the 11th man would get in. James claims to have made the decision, but has not announced it. It would be in keeping for him to finish fourth.


Leading positions in the European Ryder Cup table after the USPGA Championship

1 C Montgomerie (Sco) 18,862pts (pounds 1,347,350)

2 L Westwood (Eng) 11,232 (pounds 802,235)

3 D Clarke (N Ire) 9,047 (pounds 646,233)

4 P Lawrie (Sco) 7,586 (pounds 541,907)

5 M A Jimenez (Sp) 6,864 (pounds 490,332)

6 J M Olazabal (Sp) 6,842 (pounds 488,720)

7 S Garcia (Sp) 6,753 (pounds 482,379)

8 J Sandelin (Swe) 6,375 (pounds 455,409)

9 J Van de Velde (Fr) 5,374 (pounds 383,909)

10 R Karlsson (Swe) 4,725 (pounds 337,518)

11 A Coltart (Sco) 4,446 (pounds 317,580)

12 J Parnevik (Swe) 4,165 (pounds 297,556)

13 P Harrington (Rep of Irl) 4,061 (pounds 290,130)

14 B Langer (Ger) 4,060 (pounds 290,052)

15 M James (Eng) 4,043 (pounds 288,830)

16 A Cejka (Ger) 3,908 (pounds 279,207)

17 S Struver (Ger) 3,858 (pounds 275,609)

18 C Rocca (It) 3,687 (pounds 263,426)

19 G Orr (Sco) 3,655 (pounds 261,135)

20 D Howell (Eng) 3,608 (pounds 257,737)

(1pt for every 100 euros won - 1.4 euros, pounds 1. Top 10 after BMW International next Sunday qualify. Captain Mark James then adds two wild cards).