Ryder Qualifying Starts With Omega


The first event in the quest for a spot on the 2004 Ryder Cup squad begins in earnest this week at the 69th staging of the Omega European Masters on the European Tour.
The Ryder Cup qualification process takes on a different shape this year. Five players qualify from a Ryder Cup World Points list, based on all world-ranking events starting on Thursday. Five players qualify from a Ryder Cup European points list, based upon money earned on The European Tour international schedule.
The remaining two players for the matches, which will take place at Oakland Hills Country Club from Sept. 17-19, will be picked by Europe's Ryder Cup captain, Bernhard Langer.
Some of the top players in the world are competing this week, led by No. 2 Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and Colin Montgomerie. Including Montgomerie, there are 12 champions, past and present, who will tee up at Crans-sur-Sierre.
Last year, Robert Karlsson led from start to finish, defeating Trevor Immelman and Paul Lawrie by four shots. Karlsson will try to become the first back-to-back winner of this event since Seve Ballesteros captured two straight in 1977-78. Immediately after the 1997 tournament, Ballesteros was brought in to rebuild the greens.
Crans-sur- Sierre has hosted this event since 1939 with this edition the 57th held at this site. Canadian Jerry Anderson etched his name into the record books with his wire-to-wire win in 1984. His 72-hole score of 27-under still stands as the lowest total to par and gave him his maiden victory.
The Omega European Masters has witnessed a number of scoring records in its distinguished history. In 1978 Spain's Jos Maria Caizares became the first player to shoot 27 for nine holes. That has since been equaled on three occasions by Joakim Haeggman (1997 Alfred Dunhill Cup) and Robert Lee twice (1985 Johnnie Walker Monte Carlo Open and 1987 Portuguese Open). Baldovino Dassu was the first player to record the magic 60 on The European Tour in 1971, a feat equaled another nine times since.
On his way to victory in 1996, Colin Montgomerie produced the lowest 36 holes in tour history shooting of 124 (-18) in rounds 3 and 4 to beat Sam Torrance by four shots. Anders Forsbrand's scoring in 1987 was even more remarkable when the Swede covered the last 54 holes in 192 (-24) - breaking tour records for the lowest final 54 holes and the lowest final 54 in relation to par.
One of the most spectacular finishes ever seen on The European Tour took place in 1992 when Jamie Spence started the final round 10 strokes behind. Courtesy of a last-day 60 enabling him to defeat Anders Forsbrand in a play-off to equal the biggest final round comeback by a winner, first set by Neil Coles at the 1977 Tournament Players Championship. The European Tour moves to France next week for the Trophe Lancme, where Alex Cejka is the defending champion.
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