Torrance's wild card worry

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The Independent Online

Sam Torrance yesterday admitted that he will approach the Ryder Cup committee on the controversial issue of wild-card selections for the 2001 event at The Belfry.

Sam Torrance yesterday admitted that he will approach the Ryder Cup committee on the controversial issue of wild-card selections for the 2001 event at The Belfry.

The European captain was responding to fears raised by Colin Montgomerie that, with a large number of European players planning to play the majority of their golf in America next year, the existing situation which allows for just two wild-cards will not be sufficient to ensure the best home team lines up against the Americans.

Montgomerie, in Ohio for the NEC World Championship, claimed that the Ryder Cup could be "dramatically hurt" if the situation does not alter, and Torrance admitted that his senior players had raised such concerns that it was his duty to take the matter to the appropriate authorities.

"Apparently Colin tried to phone me about this last night but he couldn't get me," said Torrance, who was at Gleneagles preparing for the Scottish PGA Championship. "But because of the points he has raised I will have to take this to the Ryder Cup committee and see what they say - but it is not my decision. Obviously my job is to assemble the best team possible but you have to try to give credence to the European Tour as well - it is where the team comes from, after all."

The race for Ryder Cup points begins in two weeks at the Canon European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland and Phil Weaver, joint Ryder Cup committee chairman, admitted that the situation needed to be clarified by then. "We have got to get this sorted out before the campaign starts up because everybody needs to know how the system is going to work," he said. "It is unlikely that the Ryder Cup committee will consider altering the number of wild cards because we feel that that balance is about right. But we all want to make sure that Sam has the best possible team and that the European Tour is not at a disadvantage. So what might happen is that perhaps a points system might be awarded to players playing in America - that is a possibility."

In addition to Jesper Parnevik and Sergio Garcia, Jose Maria Olazabal, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jean van de Velde and Thomas Bjorn are poised to embark on US Tour careers at the start of next year. Montgomerie, however, has no intentions of switching to America and neither, it appears, does Paul Lawrie, the 1999 Open champion. "I've got a week off next week and my manager is coming up for a day so we can go through what my plan is for next year," said Lawrie.

Lawrie, despite a groin injury, is favourite to win the Gleneagles event, which starts today. It would complete a native double for the Aberdonian, who won the Scottish Closed PGA Championship title at Cardross in 1992.

Montgomerie said: "I feel sorry for Sam, whose hands are tied right now. I feel sorry that the Ryder Cup position will be hurt through this if these players decide to play over here. With only two picks, there are a few good players that are going to be left out. I've always said pick your 12, or at least six and six (six automatic qualifiers, six wild cards) because people are playing in different areas of the world now and we need our strongest team."

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