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Europe's 2008 Ryder Cup race begins

Europe's 2008 Ryder Cup campaign gets under way with this week's European Masters and Lee Westwood, does not believe anyone's place in the team will be a formality.

Westwood, last year's joint top points scorer at the K Club, told a news conference on Wednesday: "I think, like the last two teams, it will be very hard to make the team.

"There are a lot of very strong players in Europe now and you could put 30 or 40 candidates forward for the Ryder Cup," added Westwood, who like Sergio Garcia amassed four points in Europe's nine-point demolition of the U.S.

The Briton has planned a fast start to his European campaign by returning to Crans-sur-Sierre, where he won in 1999, for the first time since 2002.

However, Westwood, will forego the big money season-ending Volvo Masters in November, where copious amounts of points are on offer, in preference to playing in the Singapore Open, a non-European Tour event.

"I committed to a three-year deal to play Singapore and the European Tour, in their wisdom, decided to move the date of the Volvo Masters and put it against Singapore," Westwood explained.

The 34-year-old has two chances of making his sixth Ryder Cup appearance -- from European world points accumulated in the U.S. and Europe or purely from a European list.

This means he, like other top players from the continent, could miss European Tour events next season to play in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup tournaments.

"If it is the world points you want, the last couple of weeks in the FedEx Cup have been like majors in terms of world ranking points," said Westwood, a former European number one.

Five of Europe's victorious 2006 team play the event at Crans-sur-Sierre, which starts on Thursday -- Westwood, David Howell, Paul Casey, Robert Karlsson and Darren Clarke.

Howell's season has been blighted by injury but the Briton is determined to make his third Ryder Cup team.

"It is a good barometer of where your career is at, if you are making Ryder Cup teams you are doing well," Howell told reporters.

"I will be as intent on making the team as I have the last two."

Argentines Eduardo Romero and recent European Players Championship winner Andres Romero are in the Switzerland field.

Frenchman Jean Van de Velde makes a comeback after a three-month layoff to recover from a virus and title holder Bradley Dredge of Britain is also in the line up.


September 6, 2007

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