The Ryder Cup: Europe

Paul Broadhurst assesses the strengths of the team he just missed out on
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The Independent Online
Colin Montgomerie

Age: 34. World ranking: 6. Majors: 0. Career wins: 14. Ryder Cup: 4th app (W6, L5, H2).

FOUR-TIME European No 1 and heading for fifth money-list title. Considering playing full-time in America, where he has come close to winning US Open (three times) and US PGA (once). Past winner of Volvo Masters at Valderrama.

Broadhurst's verdict: Monty seems to hit the ball further and further every time I play with him. All of a sudden he has become a seriously long hitter, but he is also very straight and a lovely putter. He would have everyone believe he is a terrible putter, but there are not many out there better than Monty.

Darren Clarke

Age: 29. World ranking: 31. Majors: 0.

Career wins: 2. Ryder Cup: Debut.

HAS not won since the German Masters last October but this has been the Portrush man's most consistent season by far with eight top-seven finishes, including runner-up at the Open at Royal Troon and the Volvo PGA at Wentworth. He also had a good matchplay record as an amateur player.

Broadhurst's verdict: A big guy who hits the ball long distances. A good driver, if he has got a weakness it is maybe his short game, but he has good days and bad days like us all. He does not think he is a great putter, but I disagree, he is a good putter. Again, a very solid, strong player.

Bernhard Langer

Age: 40. World ranking: 19. Majors: 2. Career wins: 50. Ryder Cup: 9th app (W15, L14, H5).

BACK to his best this year with three wins with his broomhandle putter. Langer is the Valderrama course record holder with a 62 he put together in 1994. Has partnered 12 different players in the Ryder Cup, a unique record for a unique player.

Broadhurst's verdict: Very, very steady. Again, not one of the longest on tour, but very straight. He gets the job done. His putting can be up and down, but as long as he conquers that, there is not a problem. Makes very few mistakes and a brilliant thinker around a golf course, probably better than anyone else. You need to do that at Valderrama.

Ian Woosnam

Age: 39. World ranking: 24. Majors: 1. Career wins: 41. Ryder Cup: 8th app (W13, L11, H5).

SAVED his one win of the year for the biggest event on tour outside the Open, the Volvo PGA. Little consistent form of late, but he showed two years ago that he can perform when it matters. Still seeking his first singles win in the competition.

Broadhurst's verdict: When Woosie is in the mood, no one can beat him. Drives the ball well, good iron player, putting can be a bit iffy. He is a streak putter, so if he gets his eye in early, it lifts the whole of his game and he is unbeatable. His head can drop when he misses a few, but no player's head is going to drop in the Ryder Cup.

Per-Ulrik Johansson

Age: 30. World ranking: 39. Majors: 0.

Career wins: 5. Ryder Cup: 2nd app (W1, L2).

FORMER college team-mate of Phil Mickelson, to whom the Swede lost in the final, dead singles match at Oak Hill. A better player two years on, having won three times in the year-long qualifying period, twice at the European Open and once at the English Open.

Broadhurst's verdict: The tiger of the team. If Per gets a sniff of victory he goes on to win. That's his biggest asset. When I have played with him recently, he has not played fantastic, but he has gone out the following week and won. A little bit unpredictable, but a very, very tough competitor.

Lee Westwood

Age: 24. World ranking: 30. Majors: 0.

Career wins: 3. Ryder Cup: Debut.

HAS had all Europe's leading players raving about his game. Despite not winning on the European Tour this year, he has enjoyed seven top- 10 finishes and is just off the pace in the European money-list race. Has played well in all the majors this year.

Broadhurst's verdict: Our answer to Tiger Woods: he drives it 300 yards and straight. Has suddenly discovered 30-40 yards off the tee and everyone would like to discover that secret. Keeps it very straight as well. Has improved his short game over the last 12-18 months and has a lovely putting stroke. Has the game to go on to greater things.

Ignacio Garrido

Age: 25. World ranking: 74. Majors: 0.

Career wins: 1. Ryder Cup: Debut

HIS father Antonio was the first continental European to strike a ball in the Ryder Cup back in 1979. Ignacio used to caddie for his father in tour events as a child. Assured, mature young man, not frightened to speak out against his captain over the Martin affair. He should be suited to fourballs.

Broadhurst's verdict: Ignacio hits the ball forever off the tee. A good short game, slightly unorthodox, but very effective. Interesting to see how he holds up under the pressure of the Ryder Cup, but a good iron player and a good putter, so an asset to the team.

Thomas Bjorn

Age: 26. World ranking: 66. Majors: 0.

Career wins: 1. Ryder Cup: Debut.

DENMARK'S first Ryder Cup player, an impressive victory at Loch Lomond last year helping him qualify despite suffering first neck and then ankle injuries this year. Finished fifth in the last qualifying event in Munich to secure his place. Best finish this season was third in the Dimension Data Pro-am. Won four times in topping the Challenge Tour in 1995, although he lacks recent matchplay experience.

Broadhurst's verdict: A very steady player. Drives the ball well, doesn't hit too many bad shots and is impressive because of that. His whole game is solid, putts well, a good iron player.

Costantino Rocca

Age: 40. World ranking: 42. Majors: 0.

Career wins: 4. Ryder Cup: 3rd app (W3, L4).

HE was deemed the villain of the piece in the 1993 Ryder Cup when he lost to Davis Love, but proved himself to be a strong character two years ago when he holed in one and won three points. Indifferent year until winning in Switzerland.

Broadhurst's verdict: Never looks like he is going to hit a bad shot, but something was wrong this year until his victory in Switzerland. Normally drives it straight. He's a good iron player; his putting can be a bit suspect, but when he gets his eye in he will be in the winner's enclosure. Someone you would never want to leave out of a Ryder Cup team.

Jose Maria Olazabal

Age: 31. World ranking: 57. Majors: 1. Career wins: 22. Ryder Cup: 5th app (W12, L6, H2).

MIRACULOUSLY returned to top-class golf after missing 18 months because of misdiagnosis of foot injuries. He formed a virtually unbeatable partnership with Seve Ballesteros in four previous Ryder Cups, but now he must go it alone.

Broadhurst's verdict: Jose has had a really good comeback and surprised a few people. Fantastic iron player, one of the best long-iron players on tour. His driver can be a little erratic, but if he can keep that on the track, he will be difficult to beat. Very strong putter and he and Seve are at the top of the tree when it comes to the short game.

Nick Faldo

Age: 40. World ranking: 15. Majors: 6. Career wins: 39 Ryder Cup: 11th app (W21, L16, H4).

THE most experienced player in Ryder Cup history - he has not missed a match since 1977. Came back from one down with two to play to win that pivotal match against Curtis Strange two years ago. He may not play all five times, but is bound to be a steadying force for a rookie in the foursomes.

Broadhurst's verdict: What can you say about Nick Faldo? He has been at the top for more than 20 years. Maybe he is not playing the best he has throughout his career, but you can never write him off. Not necessarily a long hitter, but he is straight, which is perfect for Valderrama.

Jesper Parnevik

Age: 32. World ranking: 18. Majors: 0.

Career wins: 3. Ryder Cup: Debut.

DESERVED his selection as a wild card after enjoying a brilliant season in the United States, where he has won more than $1m. He has had eight top-10 finishes, including his runner's-up effort at the Open, and deserves his world No 18 ranking.

Broadhurst's verdict: It has been a few years since I played with Jesper, but he drives the ball a long way. Prone to a bit of a hook when playing badly, but a strong iron player and from what I've seen of him in the States, a lovely putter. No surprise that the captain picked him. Has played very well this year, as his ranking testifies.

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