Even though the rather grandly named British Masters starts at The Belfry today, it would not be The Belfry unless all the talk concerned the Ryder Cup. And yesterday - despite the proliferation of points available in the race for Dublin - one of Europe's most prominent players was only too keen to discuss who might not be on Ian Woosnam's team.
In fact, Lee Westwood is not too sure he will be at the K Club on 22 September and furthermore warned the home captain he would not be altering his plans purely to make the side, whatever the fiery little Welshman's criteria for selection might be.
Last week, Woosnam singled out Westwood, along with Padraig Harrington, as a player who must start shifting his ample backside if he is to qualify, and issued the ominous declaration that when it came to his two wild cards, he would look first at those professionals who have stayed loyal to the European Tour instead of chasing the dollar.
Both Westwood, 33, and Harrington fall into the latter camp and both are struggling to make it as of right. The inference from Woosnam was clear - rip up your schedules or risk not playing. The inference from Westwood was clearer - er, no. "I'm not prepared to change my schedule for one week's golf," he said. "I set my stall out last year to play in America and I'm going to stick to it. I love playing in the Ryder Cup and have been very proud to do so, but I play this game for a living. Looking at the points table, somebody is going to miss out and I'm not confident it won't be me."
In fairness to Westwood, though, he is playing in the next three European tournaments and understands the necessity of a decent run. "We're playing for nearly half a million points this week," he said, "and if I play really well in the next three weeks I would almost guarantee myself a place."
That is a whole lot easier said, however, as not only has the Worksop golfer missed his last two cuts, but of the 2004 Ryder Cup team, only Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald and Thomas Levet are missing from one of Europe's best line-ups.
Not all of the competitors will be so determined to be in the final group on Saturday. West Ham fan Paul McGinley and Liverpool diehards Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn have paid a reported £15,000 to have a helicopter on a neighbouring field ready to transport them on the 25-minute journey to Cardiff where a certain Cup final is taking place.
As the BBC have brought Saturday's tee-times forward to avoid a clash, play may finish around 2.30pm. So as long as none of the trio are leading, all should make it to the Millennium Stadium. West Ham fans go on about blowing bubbles but would McGinley be prepared to blow a lead? "No I wouldn't," he said, grinning.Reuse content