Torrance could seek more captain's picks for Ryder Cup

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The Independent Online

Europe's Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance said today he would ask for more than two captain's picks for next year's match if that is what his best players want.

Europe's Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance said today he would ask for more than two captain's picks for next year's match if that is what his best players want.

Torrance was replying to a call from Colin Montgomerie in the United States for him to be given more picks to ensure Europe have their best team to face the Americans at The Belfry in England in September 2001.

Montgomerie, who called for the captain to have six picks. said that with several of Europe's top players likely to be competing a lot on the U.S. Tour next year, they might not be able to accumulate enough points from qualifying events to gain automatic places.

And with Torrance having only two picks to complete his 12-man team, some top players might have to be omitted.

"My job is to get the best team for The Belfry. But if the best players want to get more picks I would take it to the Ryder Cup Committee and get them to consider it," Torrance said.

He was speaking after his last practice round for Thursday's start of the Scottish PGA Championship on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Monarch's Course at Gleneagles.

Torrance stressed it would not be his decision and he had not really thought about it.

But he pointed out that, with the three U.S. major championships and the three world championship events all counting for Ryder Cup qualification, "there are still plenty of events for them to earn enough money."

The players expected to play mainly on the U.S. Tour next year include Spaniards Jose Maria Olazabal, Sergio Garcia and Miguel Jimenez, Jean Van de Velde of France, Sweden's Jesper Parnevik, Thomas Bjorn of Denmark, joint second and third in the last two major events.

The Europeans begin their qualifying schedule at the European Masters in Switzerland in two weeks. The Americans began theirs last January.

The Ryder Cup Committee joint chairman, Phil Weaver, said it was unlikely the number of captain's picks would be boosted but a system whereby players playing in American get extra points could be considered.

"We have to get this sorted before the next qualifying campaign starts. It's in everyone's interest that Sam has his best team," Weaver said.

One player expected to play less in America next year is ex-British Open champion Paul Lawrie, who is also playing at Gleneagles this week.

Lawrie, who won the Open at Carnoustie last year, said he would favour a system where the captain had four picks instead of the two which the captains have had since after the 1993 match. For five Cups prior to that, captains had three selections.

Lawrie, a member of the 1999 team who narrowly lost at Brookline, confirmed Wednesday he would not even play his mandatory 15 events in America this year because of a string of injuries he has suffered.

He had an ankle injury in Hawaii at the start of the year, a groin injury which forced him out of several events including the U.S. Open, and a hand injury.

"I've had more injuries in eight months that I ever had. I don't think you can play over there without having a base and my wife doesn't want to live over there," he said, adding that she doesn't fly well and their son is just starting school at their home in Aberdeen.

"I don't like being so far away from home."