Casey and Rose seek atonement at Versailles

Bernhard Langer, the Ryder Cup captain, did a neat side-step yesterday when he was asked about the European flop at last week's US Open.

Bernhard Langer, the Ryder Cup captain, did a neat side-step yesterday when he was asked about the European flop at last week's US Open.

Back from an eight-week injury lay-off for the French Open starting at Versailles today, Langer's answer focused on the difficulty of Shinnecock Hills rather than the players' inability to cope with it.

"There were two or three holes which were almost unfair," said Langer, who has not played since April because of wrist trouble. "I was watching on TV and saw five or six guys putt off the green. The greatest players in the world don't putt off the green that many times. It was just very, very difficult circumstances. On Sunday, 18 per cent of the players hit the 10th green - one in six, which is ridiculous."

Justin Rose, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Levet are all looking to make swift amends for early exits. Colin Montgomerie, who missed his first major since 1991, is also in the field.

The United States Golf Association has followed the lead of the Royal and Ancient by introducing qualifying tournaments in Europe and Asia for next year's US Open. The plan is for a qualifier to be held at a site convenient to the weekly European tour and the Japan tour sites on 6 June.

Entry into next year's Open Championship could be refused to any player who pulls out of next Monday's qualifying tournament at Sunningdale because they have had a bad first round. The Royal and Ancient will have a doctor in attendance for the 36-hole event at which 120 players will be competing for around 15 places at Royal Troon next month.

Montgomerie, Langer, Justin Rose, Ian Woosnam, Jose Maria Olazabal, Jesper Parnevik and Jean van de Velde are among those taking part after their failure to earn an exempt spot in the Open proper.

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