Langer hints at Ryder Cup playing role

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It has not been lost on Bernhard Langer - few things are - that he is one of the beneficiaries of the introduction of a second qualifying list for the European Ryder Cup team, one based on world rankings points. For the first time events other than those on the European Tour will be taken into account and so Langer, who has a home in Florida and plays a number of tournaments on the US Tour, could find it easier to qualify.

The only problem is that the German has already been appointed Europe's captain for the match at Oakland Hills, in Detroit, next year. The chances of Langer playing in an 11th match in 13 months' time, when he will be 47, must be slim otherwise he would not have accepted the captaincy last month.

But yesterday Langer would not rule out swapping the captain's buggy and a walkie-talkie for his clubs. "If I was having one of my best years and was high up in the points then I'll consider it," Langer said. "I have not ruled anything out. It is too far away."

Langer's logic is straightforward and not motivated by any hint of personal glory in equalling Nick Faldo's record number of appearances. "We need the top-12 players and that is the priority," he said. "But it would not be a last-minute change. It would be months in advance."

Langer was speaking less than a week before what he called the "qualifying modus" begins at the European Masters. The 12-month system now includes two qualifying lists. Five players will come from a table of cumulative world rankings points, earned at any event around the world, and five from the traditional money list from events on the European Tour.

The change was brought in after Sam Torrance, the victorious captain at The Belfry last September, had to pick Sergio Garcia and Jesper Parnevik as his wild cards when both were rated as two of Europe's highest performers on the world rankings.

"I believe the best players will be in the team and I will not have to waste my picks on two of the best guys who should be in already," Langer said in endorsing the new system. "The strongest 12 will make the team and that's what we need to beat the Americans."

Langer, who next month will visit Oakland Hills to see how the course is due to be set-up, has decided to wait until next summer to appoint his assistants, perhaps suggesting they will be active players with a chance of making the team.

As for everyone playing prior to the singles on the Sunday, Langer was adamant. "I don't think it is fair, especially on the rookies, to throw them into the cold water on Sunday. I'd like to play everyone on the first two days unless there is a very good reason not to."