Golf: Faldo determined to improve Ballesteros' options

Andy Farrell looks at the problems faced by golf's two Ryder Cup captains who both have difficult choices to make in naming their selections for Valderrama
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The Independent Online
As he sits at home in Pedrena, following the 79th USPGA Championship from afar, Europe's Ryder Cup captain, Seve Ballesteros, can allow himself one consoling thought as he tries to make three go into two: at least he is not Tom Kite.

The American skipper must name his two wild-card selections for the match at Valderrama in September next Monday. Ballesteros has until the conclusion of the BMW International in Munich on 31 August to make up his mind. So far, the Spaniard has not revealed his thinking, even to his potential picks.

The three likely candidates for the two spots are Nick Faldo, Jose Maria Olazabal - both of whom are outside the top 10 automatic qualifying places - and Jesper Parnevik, who as a non-member of the European Tour is not included on the points list.

"This is the position we didn't want to put Seve in," said Faldo, 22nd on the list and who would set a record of 11 Ryder Cup appearances if he plays at Valderrama. "Having done 10 straight, I would not like to miss out," he added.

Faldo's problem is that this is his last counting event. Next week, he plays in the World Series in Ohio and then, while everyone else goes for broke in Munich, he will be hosting his own Faldo Junior Series finals at the Forest of Arden. Faldo, who missed the cut at Augusta and finished 48th at the US Open and 51st at the Open, must be first or second this week to qualify automatically. At the 1984 US Open at Winged Foot, he was 55th.

"If I play well this week it takes care of itself," he said. "If I don't, I'll have to be a pick. I have had a second, a third and a fourth in Europe and won in Los Angeles this year and I've got 10 Ryder Cups behind me. On paper, my credentials are pretty good."

But the 40-year-old Englishman missed the cut in his last outing and has been fighting a block with his natural fade. "I now have only one game plan," he revealed. "It's refreshing. I'll aim at the spot I'm looking for with a little draw, not with it going right to left."

Faldo added: "I'm sure Seve's got everything under control. But you know he is going to want Ollie." Olazabal, in 12th place, has been helped by the wrist injury to his countryman Miguel Martin, who rates himself unlikely to be fit to play at Valderrama if he remains in the top 10. In that instance, the 11th man will qualify.

All the top 13 in the list, bar Martin, play here, plus Sam Torrance in 17th place, with Per-Ulrik Johansson, Thomas Bjorn and Costantino Rocca the men under pressure to retain their top 10 places. Bjorn, the 26-year- old Dane, was not sure of teeing up tomorrow after missing the last two tournaments following an ankle injury caused by jogging.

Parnevik, who has suffered from sinus problems since finishing as runner- up for the second time in the Open at Troon, can only wait patiently. "It's out of my hands," said the Swede who narrowly missed a wild card two years ago. "I'll be thrilled if I get on the team, but I won't be disappointed if I don't because of my decision to come over here.

"Yes, I would pick myself, but there are a lot of good players who should be on the team but with the system we have might be left out. I'd like it to be like any other team, just pick the 12 who are playing the best when the match comes round."

Ken Schofield, the executive director of the European Tour, has conceded that the world rankings, in some shape or form, will be taken into account next time.

Kite will be hoping Davis Love, 10th on the US list, can maintain his position. Love and Tommy Tolles, ninth, are the men most in danger, although a victory for anyone down to Scott McCarron in 25th place could see them on to the team. Assuming Love, a member of the last two teams, makes it, Kite will be looking for experience.

Currently, the top 15 on their list can muster only eight Ryder Cup appearances among them. Fred Couples, despite the personal problems which have affected him this year, will be one pick, but the other could be a surprise. Tom Watson, after finishing fourth at the Masters and 10th at the Open, would be the sentimental choice for a fifth appearance. But Watson's putting problems could be exacerbated by matchplay.

Although a rookie, Kite might instead go for David Duval, not in the best of form recently but with a fine matchplay record. He was unbeaten in four matches in both the 1991 Walker Cup and last year's President's Cup.

Watson, the winning American captain in 1993, is not hopeful of a congratulatory call from Kite. "My chances of being picked for the team are pretty slim," he admitted. "I'd very much like to be on the Ryder Cup team, but I almost have to play myself in by winning this tournament."

Ryder Cup standings

1 C Montgomerie 842,230.78

2 D Clarke 593,990.35

3 I Woosnam 505,574.69

4 B Langer (Ger) 504,907.96

5 L Westwood 459,530.17

6 I Garrido (Sp) 366,396.22

7 P-U Johansson (Swe) 333,710.30

8 T Bjorn (Den) 327,011.59

9 M-A Martin (Sp)..................324,400.30

10 C Rocca (It).....................314,555.29

11 P Harrington 288,870.04

12 J-M Olazabal (Sp) 266,784.06

13 P Broadhurst 255,644.68

14 R Chapman 242,372.45

15 J Haeggman (Swe) 242,350.08

16 M James 237,609.86

17 S Torrance 236,130.21

18 D Gilford 213,232.42

19 P Mitchell 210,794.32

20 R Claydon 198,415.00

Selected: 22 N Faldo 190,297.95

(GB or Irl unless stated)

(One point for every pound won)

1 T Woods 1,185.000

2 T Lehman 1,016.286

3 J Leonard 888.500

4 J Furyk 867.500

5 P Mickelson........................809.286 6 M O'Meara 801.250

7 B Faxon 727.500

8 S Hoch 711.952

9 T Tolles 689.285

10 D Love 657.166

11 J Maggert 646.625

12 S Jones 579.280

13 M Brooks 549.750

14 P Stankowski 503.334

15 D Duval 470.000

16 F Couples 458.040

17 T Watson 433.667

18 M Bradley 402.500

19 J Cook 376.000

20= K Perry 372.500 S Stricker 372.500

(One point for every dollar won)

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