Golf: Martin's Ryder Cup case boosted by player power

Rejected Miguel Angel Martin has an ally in the Tournament Committee but the Ryder Cup Committee will not back down. Andy Farrell reports
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The decision to axe Miguel Angel Martin from Europe's Ryder Cup team was last night called into question by a body representing the players on the PGA European Tour. But the Spanish golfer's claim for compensation has not been strengthened, according to the Tour's lawyer.

The Tournament Committee, which is chaired by Mark James and includes Colin Montgomerie, a member of the team for Valderrama, and Sam Torrance, "do not agree with the decision taken by the Ryder Cup Committee, feeling the matter of fitness should be the decision of the individual player," said Ken Schofield, the executive director of the European Tour.

"That view will be minuted and conveyed to the Ryder Cup Committee," added Schofield, an ex-officio member of the Ryder Cup Committee. Players leaving the three-hour meeting declined to comment, but Jean Van de Velde - known to want to raise the Martin affair - when asked if the outcome was satisfactory, stated: "Very".

Martin said: "It is good the Tournament Committee is with me and think it a bad decision, but what can I do? I am not on the team."

The Spaniard has been offered an invitation to attend the match, his team uniform and tour ranking as a Ryder Cup player, plus the standard pounds 3,500 expenses. "There is no way I will settle for that," Martin added. He may have to. "I don't think he is entitled to financial compensation," said Michael Friend, the tour's general counsel.

The Tournament Committee want new guidelines for the match in 1999, but Schofield said the Ryder Cup Committee faced "an unprecedented situation with a player having qualified but not competing at the time of the selection of the team. There is a clear difference between the two committees.

"The Tournament Committee has a broad focus on behalf of all tour players, while the Ryder Cup Committee has a clear focus on the issues of the Ryder Cup. It would not impose on the captain and the rest of the team a seriously injured player who was not competing at time the team was chosen."

After managing to hit only a few balls earlier in the week, Martin was unfit to compete in the One2One British Masters, which starts today.

Six Ryder Cup players, including Ian Woosnam and Colin Montgomerie, line up in next month's Toyota World Match Play at Wentworth.