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Faldo sets sights on Ryder Cup qualification

Nick Faldo says he will stand by his decision not to contest the 2004 European Ryder Cup captaincy, preferring instead to try to make the team as a player at Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan.

The six-times major champion on Thursday dropped his interest in skippering Europe at the 35th Ryder Cup, saying that Sam Torrance should retain the European captaincy following his team's famous triumph at The Belfry last week.

Although Torrance on Friday said he did not wish to be considered for the same role for the 2004 showdown against the United States, Faldo is not tempted to change his mind.

"No, I have made my final decision on the next Ryder Cup captaincy," said the 45-year-old Englishman, after carding a six-under-par 66 at Kingsbarns on Saturday in the Dunhill Links Championship's third round.

"I want to play on the team in 2004.

"I am not saying I don't want to be a captain in the future. But even after I heard about Sam's decision, I wasn't tempted to change my mind."

Faldo, who was considered as one of three likely candidates for the 2004 captaincy along with Welshman Ian Woosnam and Germany's Bernhard Langer, has set his sights on making the most of the next two years as a player.

"Technically it's pretty good for me right now," he said. "I can build on that and play some more good golf in the coming years.

"I feel the next two years are really important to me as a player. I am going to have an easy year next year and then I am going to go for it, build up my stamina and plan a schedule for 2004 that, hopefully, will get me into the team as a player.

"I am still getting the buzz from this game and enjoying it and I want to be part of it (the Ryder Cup) again. Playing is the way for me to achieve my goals right now.

"Two more years of playing and making the team and then I can think about being a businessman."

Faldo has not won a title anywhere in the world since the 1997 Nissan Open in Los Angeles but has produced a string of impressive performances this year -- including a tie for 14th at the U.S. Masters and a share of fifth place at the U.S. Open.

On Saturday, the three-times British Open champion collected six birdies in a blemish-free 66 but was still unhappy with his putting.

"I am playing really nice from tee to green but battling with the putter," he said. "But I am always battling with the putter. It wasn't easy today on the greens -- they were tricky, speedy and bumpy."

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