Langer 'keen' to take on Ryder Cup captaincy

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The Independent Online

Bernhard Langer, a man of his word, kept his promise yesterday to reveal whether he was interested in captaining Europe in next year's Ryder Cup. After 10 months of mulling over whether he still wanted to attempt to qualify as a player for the match at Oakland Hills in Detroit, the 45-year-old German has decided he would prefer to be the man in charge.

It is almost certain that this is what the Ryder Cup Board was waiting to hear. Though Ian Woosnam declared his interest last October, and Sandy Lyle put in a late bid, the decision appears to have revolved around whether Langer would make himself available.

Langer was given until the Open this week to make a decision, with the announcement on the captaincy put back. A recommendation is due to be made next week in Ireland by the Tournament Committee, comprising 15 players from the European Tour, after which the matter will be passed to the Ryder Cup Board for ratification.

Although the Americans usually have their next captain in place shortly after the preceding match - Hal Sutton was nominated last autumn - the only deadline on the European side is to have the next captain in place for when the qualifying starts in the September of the year before the next match.

Woosnam was vice-captain to Sam Torrance for the match at The Belfry last September when Europe regained the Cup and Langer made his 10th appearance. The German won three of his matches and halved the other. He made his debut in 1981 and the only match he has missed as a player was the defeat at Brookline in 1999.

Immediately after the last match Torrance endorsed Woosnam as his preferred successor after the Welshman worked tirelessly as his assistant. But such is the esteem in which Langer is held, both by his fellow players and the officials of the European Tour, that now he is available it will be hard to turn him down. Even Woosnam has softened his stance recently and suggesting Langer would make a diplomatic choice for a match in America.

Woosnam had an up-and-down time yesterday as he first thought he had missed out on qualifying for the Open, and then made it through in a play-off. Langer's pronouncement probably only confirmed what he already knew.

"I'm certainly keen to get the job and we'll see what happens," Langer said. "That's the way I feel right now and I think that's the way I'm going to feel for the next 12 months. People say I'm laid back but maybe inside I'm not quite that laid back because the Ryder Cup means a lot to all of us."

As well as Langer hoping he might still have one more match as a player in him, there was a doubt about whether the Detroit encounter would clash with his daughter going off to college in America, an event Langer has said he does not wish to miss.

But the former double Masters champion does not want to get into a bidding war. "I'm not sure if that is the right way round," he said. "I think it's better the way we've always done it in the past and the way the Americans have done it. You can say you are available but it's up to the committee to approach the player and say 'we would like you to be captain'.

"That's a better way of doing it than asking everyone to throw their name into a hat and then you have winners and losers, which is not good."