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Coltart and Parnevik get wildcard places

Ryder Cup captain Mark James produced an even bigger surprise than opposite number Ben Crenshaw when he named Scot Andrew Coltart in his side to defend the trophy in Boston next month.

Coltart, whose wife Emma is expecting their first child on September 13, becomes the seventh new cap in one of the most inexperienced teams in cup history.

James, who after falling just short of qualifying for his own team revealed that he would have played and given the captaincy to his fellow "partner in crime" from the 1979 match Ken Brown, named Coltart alongside Jesper Parnevik as his two wild cards.

Following his decision not to include Nick Faldo, James has also cleared out the rest of the old guard by preferring Coltart to Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam.

Crenshaw last week chose Steve Pate ahead of both Fred Couples and Lee Janzen, but as shocks go that does not even come close to the naming of Coltart, Lee Westwood's brother-in-law.

It means that Europe will go to Brookline with six more debutants than the Americans - and their only one is world number two David Duval - and with only five survivors of the team which won under Seve Ballesteros at Valderrama two years ago.

Coltart shot a closing 66 in the final qualifying event, the BMW International in Munich, but disappointment was written across his face.

The 29-year-old finished joint fifth, but dropped from 11th to 12th in the final points table and assumed that that meant the end of his cup hopes.

"I gave it a go," he said. "It was a good effort, but a 63 or 64 was my target.

"It's been hard work and tough, but it shows you what you have to do to get to the next stage. I'm probably a tougher player and I've learnt a lot more."

But then Coltart learnt that he had reached the next stage - he is now a Ryder Cup player.

It meant an instant change to his plans.

The whole team will be in Ohio this week playing in the NEC world championship, where even the player finishing last receives 25,000 US dollars (£15,625) and the winner walks away with a million dollars. He also gets to play in the event next year.

As his disappointment turned to delight, it was Langer and tall Swede Robert Karlsson who were left feeling low.

Coltart left the course not knowing and discovered the news only when he landed at Heathrow.

``I'm surprised and delighted,'' he said. ``This really made all the hard work worthwhile.

``I've worked so hard for the last 10 weeks or so. I threw away some good chances, but I stuck in there all the time and never gave up because I wanted it so badly.

``It's going to be a double celebration next month now.''

Langer was favourite to join Parnevik and to add experience to the side and James spoke to him after the German star had failed in his bid to make a top 10 automatic spot.

``I always said that the captain has the decision and I wish Coltart a lot of success,'' commented Langer before cancelling a planned press conference.

Karlsson had lost 10th place in the table to Irishman Padraig Harrington, who finished a brilliant second in Munich to grab a debut, but since he was ahead of Coltart in the standings he was thought to be next on James's list.

``It was desperately close between Robert and Andrew,'' stated James. ``It could have gone either way and it was a desperate decision to make.

``I spoke to Jesper at the US PGA last week and left it to him whether to play in Europe this week.''

If he had Parnevik could have made the top 10 and allowed James to pick someone else.

``I think it's an excellent team. I think it's balanced and I think we have a good mix of different types of players and personalities. I'm looking forward to the off now.

``I'm confident we can win because it doesn't matter who was there before. It's the standard of players we have this time.

``We have a number of players who have shown they can come right through and perform at the highest level. Look at Paul Lawrie and Jean Van de Velde at the Open - brilliant performances under the most severe pressure.''

Van de Velde also clinched his place on Sunday and now has a golden opportunity to make amends for losing a three-shot lead on the final hole at Carnoustie.

Europe's rookies also include Sergio Garcia, of course. At 19 he will become the youngest player ever to appear (taking over from Nick Faldo) and after his runner's-up finish to Tiger Woods at the US PGA the whole golfing world wants to see how he fares in the Ryder Cup.

Of Karlsson's omission James added: ``It gutted me to have to speak to Robert. I just think Andrew's form since the US Open has been so consistent.''

Karlsson, though, blasted a 65, including birdies at the last three holes, and his ninth place finish was his third top 10 performance in the last four weeks. He also did better than Coltart at the US PGA.

Until this week Coltart has had only one top 10 cheque since the start of June.

James had to finish ahead of Harrington in the BMW tournament to qualify for the team.

All year he has refused to declare whether he would give up the captaincy, but finally he did.

``I asked Ken Brown if he would be willing to take over at short notice and Ken was delighted to say that he would.''

Brown and James were both disciplined following the 1979 match in West Virginia - the first time America faced Europe rather than Britain and Ireland.

James was fined 1,500 and Brown banned for the year for misbehaviour.