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Torrance to seek Ryder Cup wild card rethink

Sam Torrance has admitted that he will approach the Ryder Cup committee on the controversial issue of wild-card selections for the 2001 showpiece 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 two wild-card situation will not be sufficient to ensure the best home team lines up against the Americans next September.

Montgomerie, in Akron for the NEC World Championship, claimed that the Ryder Cup could be "dramatically hurt" if the situation does not alter and Torrance admitted the fact 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 400,000 Scottish PGA Championship over the Monarch's Course.

"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," he added. "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," said Weaver. "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 U.S. Tour careers at the start of next year.

Sam Torrance will seek to increase the number of Captain's picks for 2001. Allsport.

Montgomerie, however, has no intentions of switching to America and neither, it appears, does his fellow Scot Paul Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, despite spending a large part of this year on the other side of the Atlantic.

"I've got a week off next week and my manager is coming up for a day so we can go through all what my plan is for next year," said Lawrie. "It's fairly common knowledge that I don't like being away from home and although I've yet to confirm anything, I'm thinking nine or 10 games over there but have Europe as my main base."

As to the wild-card situation, Lawrie admitted a change might need to be made. "I read Monty saying he thought six automatic selections and six picks. I think maybe eight and four but more than they have right now - even nine and three," said the Scot.

Lawrie starts 7-1 favorite to win the Scottish PGA Championship title which would complete a native double for the Aberdonian having won the Scottish Closed PGA Championship title at Cardross in 1992.

But the 31-year-old will have to overcome a niggling groin injury which hindered his challenge in last week's PGA Championship at Valhalla.

"I struggled with my driving last week because I was trying to protect the groin some of the time. I have stretches to do to help but this course is long and one where you need to drive the ball well. But it's difficult to stand up and give it hell for leather when you've got a sore groin."

Other players in action in Perthshire are Mark James, David Gilford, Roger Chapman, Pierre Fulke and Dean Robertson but absent is Watford's Warren Bennett, who won last year, but who is unable to defend his title thanks to a thyroid problem.

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