Ryder Cup reunion at Valderrama
by Associated Press
SOTOGRANDE, Spain (AP) - Europe's Ryder Cup team is having a reunion this week at Valderrama.
All 12 members of the team which beat the United States at Oakland Hills last month are playing in the European tour's season-ending Volvo Masters. Only captain Bernhard Langer is missing.
The tournament usually determines the tour's leading money winner. But Ernie Els already clinched the title two weeks ago.
Els isn't playing here. Neither are Retief Goosen or defending champion Fredrik Jacobson. All three are playing in the Chrysler Championship in Tampa.
But two-time winner Colin Montgomerie said there is still plenty to play for on the 1997 Ryder Cup course.
""This is the finale of our European Tour," he said Wednesday. "I'm delighted that 12 out of 12 of the Ryder Cup team are here. That makes it a great event."
Montgomerie called Valderamma "a thinking man's course."
"You have to have everything here," he said. "That's why I really look forward to this event more than any, really, on the European Tour."
Montgomerie, who won the European money title every year from 1993 to 1999, said the tour's concept had changed in recent years.
"It's less European in flavor and I'm not taking away from Ernie's achievements or Retief's the two years before that," he said. "We in Europe are a more international tour now and it's proving that with the last few winners of the Order of Merit."
Montgomerie, who made the putt which clinched Europe's Ryder Cup victory, had lunch with former Ryder Cup captain Seve Ballesteros at the Madrid Open last week. He said the Spaniard told him to concentrate on playing on the Ryder Cup team in 2006 rather than consider being captain.
"Seve said, "You're a long time away from the game when you retire so keep playing as long as you can,' " Montgomerie said.
Padraig Harrington, third on the European money list, is still getting over a thumb injury he sustained at the World Match Play two weeks ago when he was beaten in the semifinals by Els.
"It didn't recover as quickly as I thought it would," he said. "But I could hit shots last week with my thumb off the club."
Harrington won the Volvo Masters at Montecastillo in 2001, the last of the five years it was played there.
"This is a big event, at the top of the European Tour," he said. "It would mean a lot to me to win it again."