Montgomerie and Olazabal in need of healing hand

MARK JAMES, who yesterday boarded Concorde with the least experienced European Ryder Cup team to fly supersonic to the States since Tony Jacklin started the tradition in 1983, will not guarantee every member of the side gets a match prior to next Sunday's singles, writes Andy Farrell.

MARK JAMES, who yesterday boarded Concorde with the least experienced European Ryder Cup team to fly supersonic to the States since Tony Jacklin started the tradition in 1983, will not guarantee every member of the side gets a match prior to next Sunday's singles, writes Andy Farrell.

"Of course I want to try and get every player a game prior to the singles," James said, "but I will do whatever is best for the team."

Over the next three days of practice at the Country Club of Brookline in Boston, James has to weld together a team full of newcomers, and whose leading two players are unhappy with their games, into a force to take on Ben Crenshaw's star-studded line-up in the 33rd Ryder Cup starting on Friday.

The Americans are smarting from defeats in the last two matches, and to the International side at the Presidents Cup last year. But they have an injury doubt over Davis Love, who was told to rest for the last two weeks after suffering from a pinched nerve in his back.

James, although not publicly saying so, must turn around the form of his two most experienced players in quick time. Jose Maria Olazabal, who has played five times, is concerned about his driving.

Colin Montgomerie blamed his putting for failing to win his last two tournaments, the British Masters and the Lancome Trophy in Paris on Sunday.

Olazabal has proved an inspirational figure at the Ryder Cup and must be again, now that his former partner, Seve Ballesteros, is involved neither as a player or as captain. Montgomerie's touch on the greens is never usually as bad as he thinks, and he has the priceless ability to will putts into the hole when it really matters, as over the coming weekend. He will select from seven putters in practice, but more encouraging was his long game at St-Nom-la-Breteche. "I have never hit the ball better," he said.

Olazabal, who has always played in all four series of foursomes and fourballs prior to the singles, and Montgomerie are two players James expects to be ever-presents in his line-ups. "Certainly, there are players I am thinking about playing five times," he said. "All captains start out hoping some players will be able to do that, but we will have to see what happens.

"I am more positive than I sometimes look. The team is coming together well. All European teams tend to be greater than the sum of their parts," he added.In Sergio Garcia, however, Europe might find a new talisman. Any thoughts that the 19-year-old Spaniard was not ready for the most pressured three days in golf were dismissed when Garcia won the Irish Open, his sixth tournament as a pro, and then chased Tiger Woods all the way at the USPGA.

While Olazabal may team up with Miguel Angel Jimenez, Garcia could play with Jesper Parnevik. Along with Padraig Harrington, playing in the BC Open, and Parnevik, Garcia was already in America, although his charity event last week was cancelled due to Hurricane Floyd.

The severe weather also disrupted the BC Open, but only three US players had taken up Crenshaw's urgings to play their way into the match. Many decided to rest, including Woods. The world No 1 has not played for the last three weeks, having won twice, at the USPGA and the NEC Invitational, in the previous three weeks.

But, remembering four years ago at Oak Hill, when he did not win a point, Crenshaw said: "I took a few weeks off before Rochester, and I wasn't much help. I didn't pull my weight."

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