Montgomerie voices Cup fears

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The Independent Online

Colin Montgomerie yesterday welcomed the new Ryder Cup qualifying system, but voiced his grave concerns over the possible loss of Bernhard Langer as captain.

Montgomerie shares Langer's view that the new method of selecting the European side should produce the strongest team possible. Instead of 10 players qualifying from a points table based on the Order of Merit and two wild cards making up the team, five players will qualify from a special Ryder Cup World Points List which begins at this week's European Masters here.

Players' world ranking points, earned from each event they play in, will be added together, unlike the official world rankings which take an average of points earned per event.

Five more players will have the chance to qualify through money earned in official European Tour events, one euro being converted into one point, and Langer's two wild cards will complete the line-up.

But last week Langer revealed he had not ruled out the possibility of qualifying for the team and an 11th appearance himself, and insisted he would give up the captaincy if he succeeded.

The 46-year-old German was quick to dismiss suggestions that this could leave the team in limbo just weeks before the contest at Oakland Hills in September, but Montgomerie was clearly concerned about the possibility. "It could be one month before, three weeks before, and then we might lose our captain," said Montgomerie, Europe's top points scorer at The Belfry last year.

"He has to make a very, very serious choice as vice-captain," Montgomerie added. "He has to be very careful who he chooses as his vice-captain if he is close to qualifying as that guy will have to take over." The obvious candidates would appear to be Ian Woosnam and Sandy Lyle, the men Langer was chosen ahead of.

Whoever wins the European Masters this week will get off to a flying start with a top prize of €266,660 (£184,400). Competition will be fierce with the current European No 1, Ernie Els and the defending champion, Robert Karlsson, among the field high up in the Swiss Alps.