While David Duvalís success in winning the Open at Lytham on Sunday consolidated
his place in Americaís Ryder Cup side and put a smile on the face of his captain
Curtis Strange, Sam Torrance, the European captain, visited Turnberry yesterday
knowing his plans for the Belfry in September were less certain than ever.
After halving a match over the Ayrshire links, Torrance and Strange both spoke
of their sympathy for Colin Montgomerie, after the Scot again failed to break
his duck in the majors. "I felt sorry for Colin because that was his best chance
to win the Open," said Torrance. "He needed to shoot a low score on the third
day and move three or four clear. But he had a bad day."
Strange added: "Colin has been labelled as one of the top three players not to
win a major. Thatís a tough label to have."
The American captain also spoke warmly about the prospect of the 2009 Ryder Cup
match being held at Turnberry. "It would be an exciting match because you have
so much history here. Turnberry is a great spectator golf course, and the crowds
would be fantastic."
The emergence of Niclas Fasth at Lytham, a relatively unproven Swede who finished
runner-up behind Duval, as a serious contender for one of the ten automatic qualifying
places - he moved up to sixth after collecting £360,000 at the weekend - only
served to further complicate an already murky picture.
It was a worry that Pierre Fulke, who has promised to find the form which helped
him finish runner-up to Steve Stricker at the World Match Play in January, suffered
yet another lost weekend, running up an 83 to finish seven-over-par. And with
just eight counting tournaments before the team is selected after the BMW in Munich
on 2 September, time is starting to run out for the US-based challengers.
Bernhard Langer, for example, will only tee up in two more ranking tournaments
(the US PGA and the BMW), which means his chances of an automatic qualifying spot
are less healthy than those of Ian Woosnam, whose next event is the Wales Open
at Celtic Manor from 9-12 August.
One of the continuing conundrums for Torrance is that four of the players he would
like to have in the side - Woosnam, Langer, Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia- all currently lie between 12th and 18th spots in the table.
"There are four guys out of the team at the moment Iíd like to see in the top
ten," said Torrance. "Itís getting tight. But I was impressed with the way Fasth
handled himself so well at the Open."
Jesper Parnevik is 34th, and has little or no chance of qualifying in his own
right unless he finishes in the first three at the US PGA in Atlanta next month.
Given that the Swede finished joint ninth at Lytham, the same mark as Garcia,
he and the young Spaniard are favourites for the wild card picks.