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Ryder Cup loophole for European players

Sweden's Jesper Parnevik and Briton Luke Donald could stay in contention for this year's Ryder Cup if they exploit a loophole in European Tour membership rules, says Europe's captain Bernhard Langer.

PGA Tour regulars Parnevik and Donald effectively ruled themselves out of selection earlier this month, saying they could not compete in the requisite 11 tournaments in a year and would forgo their European Tour membership.

However, Germany's Langer told a news conference at Wentworth on Tuesday that merely competing in a qualifier for a major championship would count as one of the 11 minimum events.

"Qualifying for a major actually counts as playing it, even if you miss qualifying," said the veteran of 11 Ryder Cups. "If I enter qualifying for this year's British Open, it counts, even if I miss qualifying.

"I think some players might not know that, and it applies to all the majors."

Langer, 46, added he had learned about the loophole only after speaking to European Tour executive director Ken Schofield earlier in the day.

"It's been a rule for years and years, but I can't blame anybody for not knowing it," he said. "I've been a pro for 29 years, and thank goodness I haven't had to qualify (for a major) for the last 28 years."

Asked if he thought knowledge of the loophole might have changed the tour membership decision by Parnevik and Donald, he replied: "I really don't know. It might not."

Parnevik and Donald are ranked outside the world's top 50, and therefore not guaranteed spots in the four majors and World Golf Championship events.

However Parnevik, 39, has been a mainstay of the European side that has won three of the last four matches against the U.S.

For Langer, though, the position is clear-cut.

"The tournament committee, and I was a part of it, decided on behalf of the all the members of the tour, all the European players, that it is a requirement to be a member of the tour and to play in 11 events," he said.

"Otherwise you cannot participate in the Ryder Cup in 2004.

"Everyone knew this a year ago going into the qualification. If they choose otherwise, then it's their own personal choice. If they have other goals, they can't have it both ways.

"As a captain it is disappointing and for the tour it is disappointing for one or two players to turn their backs on the tour and say they've chosen not to even try."

The 35th Ryder Cup will be held at Oakland Hills in Detroit, Michigan from September 17 to 19

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