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Langer optimistic about Ryder Cup players

Europe's Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Langer has high hopes for the September showdown with the United States following the performances of several European players at last week'sOpen.

"The Open championship confirmed what I have been believing for some months, which is that the European team for the 35th Ryder Cup matches will be a very strong blend of experienced golfers and young guns," the German said in a statement.

"I followed the progress of all the European players on television for several hours each day, all four days, and I was thrilled with what I saw.

"Thomas Levet followed on from his Loch Lomond win by leading the way with Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Gary Evans, Joakim Haeggman, Barry Lane, Colin Montgomerie and Ian Poulter all playing brilliantly.

"And I thought Lee Westwood emphasised, with his best of the weekend 68-67 finish, that he will win a major championship."

Briton Westwood, who ended up fourth four strokes behind American winner Todd Hamilton, was the highest-placed European at Royal Troon.

Frenchman Levet tied for fifth, Northern Ireland's Clarke shared 11th while Swede Haeggman and Britons Lane, Evans, Casey, Poulter and Montgomerie all finished in the top 26.

Langer, a veteran of 11 Ryder Cups, will complete his 12-man team for the September 17-19 matches late next month after the BMW International Open in Munich.

The 46-year-old will add two wildcard selections to the 10 automatic qualifiers.

"It looks like I might have a difficult choice, but that is why there is a captain and why I will be concentrating on that and that alone at the weekend," he said.

"Right now, though, the top five in the rankings, with seven tournaments to go, are Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Lee Westwood, who all have terrific Ryder Cup experience.

"I know we are going to have a very strong team capable of bringing the Cup back."

Five players automatically qualify for the European team via world rankings points accumulated over a 12-month period ending with the WGC-NEC Invitational at Firestone Country Club from August 19-22.

A further five spots will be decided by the five players, not otherwise qualified, who have earned the most European Ryder Cup points by August 29.

Europe, the holders, will take on the U.S. at Oakland Hills in Michigan from September 17-19.

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