Originally created 07/06/99

Garcia makes move for Ryder Cup spot



LONDON -- Sergio Garcia keeps moving closer to a spot on the Ryder Cup team.

And a number of people -- Colin Montgomerie and U.S. captain Ben Crenshaw among them -- think the 19-year-old Spaniard should represent Europe in Brookline, Mass., on Sept. 24-26.

Garcia won the Irish Open on Sunday, his first pro title in only his sixth tournament. He earned enough Ryder Cup points to put him 18th on the list of European team contenders.

Even if he does not make the automatic top 10, he could be one of captain Mark James' two extra picks.

"If Mark James thinks I'm up to it, I'll be glad to play," Garcia said Sunday after finishing with a 7-under 64 and winning by three strokes.

"I am playing well and if I can help the team I would love to play in Boston," Garcia added. "But there is a long time until September."

Garcia showed up for practice for this week's Loch Lomond tournament sporting a shaved head.

"When I turned pro I said that when I had my first big victory I would cut my hair like this," he said.

He has Loch Lomond and seven more tournaments to make the top 10. And by the way he's been playing in his six tournaments, it appears he has the game to qualify.

Since placing as the highest amateur at this year's Masters, Garcia tied for third at the Byron Nelson Classic in May and 11th at the Memorial tournament three weeks ago. On the PGA European Tour, he has placed 25th, 20th, 19th and now first.

Crenshaw is convinced he'll see Garcia at Brookline.

"A kid like this is extra special," Crenshaw said. "There's no question in my mind he'll be in the European team."

Montgomerie, who leads Europe's Ryder Cup points list, said a month ago James should put Garcia in the team and play him alongside Masters champion and fellow Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal.

"Just give Sergio to Olly and let him go," Montgomerie said.

Other big names in the top 10 are Olazabal, Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood and Bernhard Langer and James himself, although the captain won't play. But former Ryder Cup stars such as Nick Faldo and Ian Woosnam have virtually no chance of making the 10 and will need to be among the captain's choices to make the lineup.

Garcia's first triumph came on the day Tiger Woods regained his No. 1 ranking with a three-stroke victory at the Western Open. Woods has won three of his last four tournaments.

Ladbrokes rate Woods a 7-1 shot to win the British Open, with David Duval at 10-1, Montgomerie at 16-1 and Davis Love III, Ernie Els and Westwood at 20-1.

The odds on John Daly even showing up are slim.

The British Open winner at St. Andrews in 1995, Daly's game is so erratic he pulled out of this week's Loch Lomond tournament. He finished with rounds of 81 and 74 at the Irish Open.

"I have no confidence now and I'm tired," Daly said at Druid's Glen. "I don't think I would find that confidence at Loch Lomond so I've decided to go home. I'm pretty sure I'm out of the Open too because Carnoustie is hardly the place to go when you're not playing good."

Daly's late entry at the Irish Open prompted speculation he appeared only to collect the $160,000 in appearance money.

"Unfortunately appearance money is part of the European Tour," Clarke said. "It's going to be very difficult to clamp down on it, but I think it would be much better to see it going into the prize fund."