Westwood criticises Ryder Cup system

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Lee Westwood yesterday predicted the Ryder Cup qualifying system would have to change if Europe want to put out their best team.

With 11 weeks to go until the final qualifying event, the BMW International in Munich, Sam Torrance's team is missing several of its big-name players who are choosing to concentrate on the US Tour, whose events have no bearing on the Ryder standings.

"I think the time will come when it will be taken off the world rankings," said Westwood as he prepared for the defence of his Great North Open title at Slaley Hall this week. "You can't penalise people for making their choice to play on the US Tour.

"The likes of Jesper [Parnevik] and Sergio [Garcia] have set their stall out and they're not trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes, they said they want to play on the US Tour, but I think the Europeans want the strongest team no matter where people play.

"The last time I was asked I said it should be eight off the Order of Merit and four picks, but even that will probably not be enough this year."

Westwood will start favourite this week, though, even with many of Europe's leading players taking a rest after the US Open, he still faces a stern challenge from Andrew Oldcorn, the Volvo PGA Champion, the Morocco Open winner, Ian Poulter, and the former Ryder Cup player Andrew Coltart.