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Torrance speaks out on Ryder Cup issues

Captain Sam Torrance opened Europe's Ryder Cup qualifying campaign on Wednesday, saying the sport here had "fantastic" strength in depth.

Europe face the United States at the Belfry, England, next September and Torrance insisted that both the selection process and the golfing talent in Europe were up to the mark.

Ten of Europe's team will be decided by a points system while Torrance will hand out wild cards to two more.

"I think we have the right system," he said. "A pound for a point. You know where you stand. With the world rankings, you don't know what you're playing for until Thursday morning.

"And I'm happy with 10 qualifiers. We've looked at the last five or six matches and there's virtually no difference in who would have made the team."

Torrance said European players who focused more on the U.S. Tour could qualify through points from four majors and three world championships. But he urged young hopefuls to give the established players a run for their money.

Sam Torrance with the Ryder Cups. Allsport.

"I think our strength in depth is fantastic," he said. "I'm actually pleased they have 10 spots to go for instead of less."

Torrance also said that both he and U.S. captain Curtis Strange wanted a calm atmosphere at the Belfry with none of the incitement which marked last year's American victory at Brookline.

"We both know it's time to get the game and the match back to where it was," he said.

"Without going into details he's going to be talking to a few people, as I'm going to, and just making sure that everything's cool, calm and collected at The Belfry.

"What we'll be trying to avoid is incitement, winding up the crowd. That applies to the players, caddies, wives -- everyone.

"It just comes down to the fact that we just got a bit carried away at the last one. It's very difficult to keep yourself down, everyone gets excited.

"But it's just keeping it down to a minimum and letting the clubs do the talking."

Defending European Masters champion Lee Westwood, currently leading Europe's order of merit and certain of his third Ryder Cup place, agreed with Torrance's claim of strength in depth.

"A few weeks ago nobody spoke of Thomas Bjorn as a world-class player but he's finished second in the British Open, third in the U.S. PGA championship and won last week, to prove he is," said Westwood.

"And there is ample chance of players coming through and making it into the side by just playing on the European Tour without having to take into consideration the world golf championships.

"Certainly, there are 30 players capable of getting into the Ryder Cup side," he said.

The Englishman, however, was less emphatic about the selection process.

"There should have been more wild cards," he said. "I'd have been happier with eight and four, certainly nine and three."

With current European number two Darren Clarke in the field here, Westwood is will be looking for the $225,000 first prize to retain his order of merit lead.

Clarke trails him by $60,000.

Bjorn, who has overtaken the absent Colin Montgomerie to go fourth in the rankings, also lines up, along with Nick Faldo.

Faldo said on Wednesday he would play at least 10 of his next 11 events on the European Tour in a bid to seal his Ryder Cup place early.


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