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Sam Torrance stands firm on Ryder Cup selection

IT WAS at the BMW International Open last year that the words were exchanged between Mark James and Nick Faldo that, months later, were to burn print off countless pages. It all had to do with the Ryder Cup; 12 months on, the subject matter has not changed.

Yesterday it was, again, a Ryder Cup captain and, at first remove, an eminent player who were agreeing to disagree. The protagonists were different in that the captain was Sam Torrance and the player Colin Montgomerie, but the outcome was identical in that the head honcho had the last word.

Last week, at the WGC-NEC Invitational in Akron, Montgomerie was moved to join a debate that never seems quite to go away. The question of how many players should play their way into a Europe Ryder Cup and how many should be captain's selections is one that goes the rounds and always returns at about this time of year - that is, just as the selection period for the next match is about to start.

Montgomerie's solution would be for six to be taken off the order of merit and the other six tobe wild cards, citing the fact that so many leading European players, including, among others Jesper Parnevik, Sergio García, José María Olazábal and Miguel Angel Jiménez, were said to be intending to play more in the United States next year.


Sam Torrance stands firm behind the Ryder Cup selection process for 2001. .Allsport.

Six of one and half a dozen of the other might have been going a little too far, but the point was well enough made. Torrance was having none of it. "Let me get one thing straight from the start," he said. "The Ryder Cup Committee has determined that the 2001 European team will comprise the ten players who have accumulated the most points through the qualifying process in addition to two players selected by me, and I am completely supportive of this system.

"I have complete faith in a system that has matured with the growth of the European Tour into an international schedule that offers all players, and I repeat all players, the opportunity to qualify, whether they choose to play entirely in Europe or Europe and the United States.

"All four major championships and the three World Golf Championship events count for this process and the opportunity exists for players to use them as a platform to push for their places."

This is the last week for a year in which players' thoughts and deeds can be untrammelled by Ryder Cup considerations; from next week, they are playing for points as well as money. But they also have other things to exercise their thoughts, not least of which is the presence of Montgomerie, Ernie Els and, whisper it not, Greg Norman.

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