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Big Week For European Ryder Cuppers

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When Curtis Strange selected Scott Verplank and Paul Azinger, the 2001 United States Ryder Cup team was finalized.
 
Now they need to know whom exactly they will face.
 
The European Ryder Cup team will be finalized in two weeks following the conclusion of the BMW International on Sept. 2.
 
That adds greater importance to this weeks WGC-NEC Invitational in Akron, OH.
 
Theres $5 million up for grabs, and a guarantee of $25,000 for finishing dead last in the 39-man field ' good news, considering the European Ryder Cup points list is based on money.
 
In addition to the NEC Invitational and BMW International, European players can also earn points at the Scottish PGA Championship, also being played this week.
 
The current top 12 players on the European Ryder Cup list are stateside this week. That includes Paul McGinley, Bernhard Langer, Phillip Price, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ian Poulter ' who stand in 8th-12th places, respectively.
 
And with the consensus that European Captain Sam Torrance will use his two captains picks on Sergio Garcia and Jesper Parnevik ' neither of who qualified this week to try and earn their way onto the team ' theres plenty of pressure on those at the bottom of the list.
 
I have to play well this week to earn enough to get onto the team, said Jimenez.
 
The importance of this week cant be understated. An impressive finish can solidify a players position in the most anticipated Ryder Cup in match history.
 
It can also positively alter ones schedule.I want to make enough points to where I cant be passed, said McGinley of this week. I dont want to play the BMW. I want to take two weeks off and reassess things before a very busy time of the year.
 
If things go according plan, the Irishman will skip the trip to Germany and take a two-week hiatus before playing the WGC-American Express Championship in St. Louis, MO.
 
He then plans to play the Trophee Lancome in Paris and hopefully, the Ryder Cup.
 
Of course, thats the ideal scenario.
 
Others this week would like McGinley to log a few more frequent flier miles.
 
Price can secure a spot at The Belfry with a repeat of last years performance at the Firestone Country Club.
 
The Welshman finished 11 shots back of winner Tiger Woods; though, it was good enough for a share of second place with Justin Leonard and a $437,500 check.
 
Ive never gone back to somewhere, to the same venue that Ive done that well at, said Price, a two-time European Tour winner. Im hoping that its going to be a boost. I suppose well find out come Sunday.
 
Should he make the team, this would be Ryder Cup No. 1 for Price; the same holds true for McGinley and Poulter.
 
Ive watched enough of them on the television and I want to be a part of it, Price said.
 
Poulter may not have played in a Ryder Cup before, but he does have a bit of experience.
 
I was there in 93, sleeping in a tent about three miles away from the course, he recalled. It was fantastic. Just the atmosphere and the pure adrenaline of the excitement of it all, really. It was just an amazing week, really. And I thought it would be quite nice to feel that feeling for real.
 
Jimenez had that feeling in 1999, when he went 1-2-2.
 
Langer didnt compete in 99, but has nine Cups under his belt. The 43-year-old German has a career 18-15-5 record in the matches; only Nick Faldo (23) has more victories among active players.
 
I like the makeup of our team, Langer said. I think we have a good mix of experience and some new guys in there.
 
I mean, theres one or two guys you might like to see in there, but, you know, it just shows that European golf has grown in depth, too.
 
Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Pierre Fulke are currently the top five players, repsectivley, in the European standings.
 
They are all secure.
 
Colin Montgomeire stands sixth, with Niclas Fasth in seventh place.
 
Fasth and Fulke are the only players currently inside the top-7 who have not played in a Ryder Cup.