England faced with World Cup qualifier

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The Independent Online

Jean Van De Velde'S second runners-up finish on the US Tour this season has left England facing the prospect of a World Cup qualifier with other 'minor' nations in Jamaica in October.

Jean Van De Velde'S second runners-up finish on the US Tour this season has left England facing the prospect of a World Cup qualifier with other 'minor' nations in Jamaica in October.

Van de Velde lost a four-hole play-off to Scott Verplank in the Reno-Tahoe Open here on Sunday night, having begun the final round with a two-shot lead. The Frenchman thereby moved up from 92nd to 78th in the world rankings.

This weekend was the cut-off point to decide the 18 countries exempt from qualification for December's World Cup in Buenos Aires. The seedings are determined by the rankings and England would have been rated fourth if Lee Westwood had declared his intention to play the event.

But the world No 6 has already announced that he will not appear and England's next highest-ranked player is Jamie Spence in 87th spot. That puts France 18th and England 19th, leaving them reliant on somebody else withdrawing if they are to avoid the qualifier.

Bernhard Langer is thought to be undecided and he has until 11 September to make up his mind. The exempt teams will be announced a week later.

Colin Montgomerie and Darren Clarke have also said they will not be going to Argentina, but Scotland have Paul Lawrie, Gary Orr and Andrew Coltart ahead of Spence in the world rankings, while Ireland have Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley.

A week ago Spence was also behind Trinidad and Tobago's Stephen Ames, but neither played last week and, under the two-year points average system, Spence rose from 91st to 87th and Ames dropped from 79th to 91st.

That could save England, winners of the event two years ago thanks to Nick Faldo and David Carter, from the trip to the Caribbean if there is a further scratching.

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