Golf: Parnevik believes Faldo's nous needs to be used in Ryder Cup

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The Independent Online
JESPER PARNEVIK has urged Europe's Ryder Cup captain, Mark James, to include Nick Faldo in the team.

The Swede, who is defending his Volvo Scandinavian Masters title on home soil in Malmo this week, believes Faldo's experience from past battles with the Americans is vital to European hopes of retaining the Cup.

"I would like to see Nick in the European team," said Parnevik, who is hoping to qualify for the team automatically. "The Ryder Cup is such a big competition that we need his experience. My two wild-card selections would be Nick and Per-Ulrik Johansson."

Faldo is 51st in the Ryder Cup rankings and has virtually no chance of making the European team automatically, so his only chance of playing is via a wild card from James. He was selected that way by the then-captain Seve Ballesteros two years ago, when he went on to form a successful partnership with Lee Westwood. However, Faldo's form has dipped since the last Ryder Cup and many observers feel it would be a mistake for James to pick him. In particular there has been support for the impressive young Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who may yet qualify automatically for the team.

Colin Montgomerie feels Faldo needs to prove his form to merit a place in the team. "Nick is not playing his best, that is obvious," Montgomerie said. "It would be nice to have Nick on the team playing 80 per cent of what he is capable of doing, but it is not the case now.

"He'll be determined to show form in the last couple of events and when it comes down to the wire, Nick usually pulls it out. He would be an asset to the team, even if he was only playing at 80 per cent of what he was capable of. Unfortunately, he is not 80 per cent at the moment. "He has to show some signs of form over the last two tournaments. He'll be determined to do that, especially at the USPGA. Nick will take it to the wire, I'm sure."

Parnevik should have no trouble in gaining his second wild card, having won on the US tour this year, but he wants to avoid needing the captain's choice. "I've set my sights on a top-three placing here this week in Sweden and next week in the USPGA," he said. "These are two big weeks for me and I want to use them to get into the Ryder Cup team automatically rather than having to rely on a wild card. I've had two weeks off, I'm fighting fit and swinging well."

Parnevik will have his work cut out to retain his title in Malmo. Montgomerie warms up for the USPGA by attempting to keep the absent Lee Westwood at bay in the European Order of Merit. Westwood, who ran Montgomerie close in Europe last year, has moved to second spot in the rankings after successive victories.

Course record holder Paul Curry is favourite to win the Beazer Homes Challenge Tour Championship, which starts at Bowood in Wiltshire today. He shot a seven-under-par 65 in the pro-am to trim two strokes off the previous record but the Suffolk-based professional dismissed his chances because of lack of tournament action.

"Shooting 65 was more luck than judgement," he said. "This will only be my fourth tour event this year so I don't feel that sharp."

Although he now holds a handful of course records, including a 60 at Gleneagles and 62 at La Moye in Jersey, Curry spent a couple of hours on the practice range seeking to groove his swing. "You've got to if you've played as infrequently as I have," he added.

Jon Robson, who has been plagued by injury and illness for the past year, is also at Bowood along with Steve Richardson, Iain Pyman, Carl Watts and Raymond Burns.

The top-ranked Challenge Tour players - Carl Suneson from Spain and Australian Lucas Parsons - are also in the field with teenager Justin Rose.