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Monday, 23 July, 2001, 22:54 GMT 23:54 UK
Torrance sweating on stars
European captain Sam Torrance and US skipper Curtis Strange with the Ryder Cup
Whose hands will be on the Ryder Cup in September?
By BBC golf correspondent Tony Adamson

A little over 12 months ago the tournament committee of the PGA European Tour, comprised exclusively of players, met at Loch Lomond.

The subject was raised of captain's wild cards for the Ryder Cup match at the Belfry in September 2001.

Discussion centred on the fact that some of the leading European players plying their trade in the States in 2001, were unlikely to qualify automatically for the team.

Fears were expressed, I understand, that captain Sam Torrance would need more than two wild cards to guarantee a full-strength 12-man team.

Unknown quantities

Torrance dismissed his committee's advice, saying two picks would be sufficient to help mount a genuine challenge to the visitors.

A year later, with time and counting events running out, Europe is in grave danger of fielding an inexperienced and under-strength team.

Despite finishing runner-up in the WGC Anderson Consulting Match Play event in January, Pierre Fulke has since hardly looked like a player who would hold his own in the Ryder Cup's pressure-cooker atmosphere.

And it is surely too much to expect his fellow Swede, Nicklas Fasth, to play a major part in Torrance's selections on the first two days, despite his brave runner-up spot in the Open Championship.

Ian Woosnam
Woosnam's mistake could cost him dear

Philip Price of Wales and Ireland's Paul McGinley are the two other rookies currently occupying automatic places, and both would be unknown quantities at the Belfry.

So it would seem that Torrance is about to climb into the ring with one hand tied behind his back.

He desperately needs more seasoned Ryder Cup campaigners to go with the likes of Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn, Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie, all more or less certain to be carrying European colours.

However, from outside the ropes of Lytham and St Annes, he was taken on a roller-coaster ride by those for whom only top three finishes would ease them into Ryder Cup qualifying places.

Sadly, Woosnam, Langer, Jiminez, Olazabal, Garcia and Parnevik, all flattered to deceive as their chances ebbed away on Sunday having promised so much in the early stages.

All not lost

Woosnam's plight in receiving a two-shot penalty for one too many clubs in his bag only added to his captain's woe.

The Welshman's 200,000 loss cost him a virtually guaranteed place in Europe's top ten standings.

With lucrative counting events up-coming at the Dutch Open and the Scandinavian Masters in Europe, and the USPGA Championship at Atlanta, all is not yet lost.

But Torrance, and those others of the European Tour who failed to heed the concerns of their tournament committee 12 months ago, may be left to count the cost...

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See also:

23 Jul 01 |  The Open
Caddies split on Woosie blunder
23 Jul 01 |  The Open
Woosnam sticks by caddie
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