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Nick Dougherty looking to win

British youngster Nick Dougherty said on Wednesday that winning tournaments took priority over qualifying for the Ryder Cup team.

"Golf's an individual sport and it will mean much more for me to win three tournaments this year, arguably to win one," the 23-year-old said as he prepared for the start of the Algarve Portuguese Open on Thursday.

"I appreciate it being a tough call and a Ryder Cup place is certainly something I want on my CV but for 51 weeks a year it is an individual game."

Dougherty has finished second, third and fourth twice this season already and holds eighth place of the 10 automatic spots for the Ryder Cup team. He is also fifth on Europe's money list.

He missed out on a place in the Masters after only lying 62nd in the world rankings at the end of last week, when only the top 50 made Augusta.

Despite that disappointment, Dougherty can enhance his chances of playing in the Ryder Cup this week at Penina.

European captain Ian Woosnam is delighted the former tearaway, who seemed fonder of night clubs than golf clubs at one time, has settled down to battle for a place in his team.

"I think everyone serves an apprenticeship. Nick has knuckled down over the past 18 months and is just starting to fulfil his potential," said Woosnam.

A strong field on the Algarve includes Woosnam's fellow Welshmen Bradley Dredge and Stephen Dodd, who won the rain-affected 54-hole World Cup at the nearby Victoria club, Villamoura last November.

Britain's former Ryder Cup player Paul Broadhurst, who ended a 10-year barren spell last year with victory in Estoril, defends his title. The 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie, second last year, is also in the field.

Last week's Madeira champion Jean Van de Velde also plays in Portugal after winning for the first time in 13 years.

Seve Ballesteros, yet to make a start to the European Tour season, decided not to enter this week's event or the Spanish Open next month.

March 30, 2006


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