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PGA says there will no changes in the way Europe picks its Ryder Cup team

Wentworth, Surrey, 25th March - Efforts to make changes in the way the European Ryder Cup team is selected by some of the top players has been scotched by the European PGA tour who said the process would not be changed for the 1997 matches.

Seve Ballesteros, the European captain, had requested that he be allowed to pick four captain's choices rather than the two allowed under the present system for the 12-man team.

The decision by the PGA European Tour and the Ryder Cup Committee was made after taking advice from their solictors.

"After taking legal advice with a view to holding a ballot on the selection procedure we must end all speculation as a leading counsel has made it crystal clear that any change in the procedure could be legally challenged by any one player," said Neil Coles, chairman of the PGA European Tour board of directors and a member of the Ryder Cup team committee.

Coles said that Ballesteros would be invited to attend future meetings to debate the issue for the 1999 Ryder Cup.

The present system allows 10 players on the Ryder Cup points list to qualify and a further two selected by the captain. However, because Nick Faldo and Jesper Parnevik are committed to competing in the US they will not be able to earn sufficient points to qualify for the team. Also, Jose Maria Olazabal who has only just returned to the Tour after 18 months of injury will not be able to earn enough points to finish in the top 10.

To get the best possible team Seve felt he needed additional captain's choices because he did not want to leave off any of three aforementioned players and would also like to pick another Ryder Cup veteran such as Berhard Langer who is currently in 21st position.

Some of the players agreed with Seve but others were firmly opposed to any changes.

Jean Van de Velde said he would have sued had been denied an automatic place because the captain had been granted his wish to double the wildcard personal choices from two to four.

The French No 1 said "I am battling hard to be able to be the first French golfer to play in the Ryder Cup and I object very strongly to any changes in the system of qualifying we started last September."

Philip Walton, the 10th qualifier for Europe in the 1996 team agreed with Van de Velde. "We have got it right as it is. It would have been very unfortunate for the ninth and 10th players if we had changed now," he said.

Seve Ballesteros said that "Valderrama is a tough golf course and demands special players. I don't care what the Americans do in terms of the rules, I only care about having the strongest team."