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Langer sets sights on home soil victory

Bernhard Langer goes into this week's German Masters, the tournament he promotes with his brother Erwin, with triple targets.

The 46-year-old German is chasing Ryder Cup points but, more importantly, he wants to book his place at next month's WGC-American Express Championship and put himself in line for the lucrative season-ending Volvo Masters at Valderrama.

Because of a recent qualification change, Langer has not yet made the field for Valderrama in Spain, despite having shared last year's title with Britain's Colin Montgomerie.

Qualification for the October 30-November 2 tournament is now based solely on the top 60 players on the European money list as of October 26, after the penultimate event on the European Tour calendar -- the Madrid Open.

Langer, who lies 72nd on the European money list, desperately needs a good performance at Gut Larchenhof to move up the standings. However $565,348 is the top prize in an event he has already won four times.

"Whether I like it or not, I have to go along with the new qualification system," Europe's Ryder Cup captain said on Wednesday.

"I knew the rules, so it is up to me to play accordingly to get into the Volvo Masters."

But Langer knows he needs more than just a good result to book a place at the WGC-American Express Championship in Atlanta, Georgia in two weeks' time.

"I need to win this week to have any chance of moving into the top 50 in the world rankings to get into the Amex," said Langer.

"Even that may not be enough. But I haven't done the arithmetic, because I'm 63rd in the world at the moment."

Langer's third goal this week is to climb higher in both the world rankings and the European Ryder Cup points table. He has said he will play for Europe at next year's Ryder Cup, rather than act as captain, if his form is good enough.

One factor in Langer's favour is that the defending champion will not be playing in Cologne this week.

Australian Stephen Leaney heard, soon after arriving at the course on Wednesday, that his wife Tracey, expecting their first child, had gone into labour. He has since flown back to his Perth home.

Seven-times European number one Colin Montgomerie plays with yet another new caddie this week, having parted company with British bagman Steve Rawlinson following his tie for 44th at last week's Lancome Trophy.

Fellow Scot Colin Cotter, a 32-year-old with a 13-handicap who has never before carried a bag on the European Tour, has become Montgomerie's fourth caddie in less than 18 months.

"I'm here to win and so is he," said Montgomerie, who is in danger of failing to take a title for the first season since 1993. "But it will be like finding his feet at school and I'll be taking the lead more prominently."

Also playing this week are world number nine Padraig Harrington, Europe's highest ranked golfer, last week's Lancome Trophy winner Retief Goosen, Darren Clarke and in-form Adam Scott, who won the Deutsche Bank Championship earlier this month in the U.S.

Britain's Nick Faldo, a six-times major winner, plays his first event of the season that counts for 2004 Ryder Cup points.


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