Garcia, Parnevik added as wild cards

MUNICH, Germany -- European Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance named Sergio Garcia and Jesper Parnevik as his two wild-card selections on Sunday for the showdown with the United States at The Belfry from Sept. 28-30.

Both Garcia and Parnevik have focused on the U.S. Tour this year and did not play in sufficient European Tour events to make the Ryder Cup team via the automatic top 10 on the points standings.

The decision came after Phillip Price earned the final place on the European team for the Ryder Cup despite missing the cut at the BMW International. No other players below Price on the chart were able to overtake him for the 10th and final automatic spot.

Garcia, Parnevik and Price join Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn, Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie, Pierre Fulke, Lee Westwood, Niclas Fasth, Paul McGinley and Bernhard Langer on the squad.

"Sergio is No. 6, No. 7 in the world, obviously world class, tremendous asset to the team," Torrance said. "Jesper is No. 21 in the world, a great asset to the team. They've both been there before and done it and have a lot of experience."

Torrance had said that Garcia would be a wild-card pick. But he acknowledged having a tough time choosing among Parnevik, Jose Maria Olazabal and Paul Casey.

"It wasn't the right time to pick a rookie," he said of Casey. "His time will come. With Olazabal and Parnevik, it was very difficult. There is no one with a bigger heart than Jose Maria. Unfortunately, he's not on top of his game. It was very tough to leave out someone of his stature, no one tries harder, no one is better in the team room. It was tough to leave him out."

Torrance said Olazabal accepted the decision with grace.

"He's a gentleman," he said. "He understood I had to make a decision. Somebody had to miss out."

Torrance said Parnevik is a "very happy camper."

"He was just delighted to be asked," he said. "I don't think he was nervous, I think he knew he had a good chance."

"Sam called about five minutes before my tee time and told me," Parnevik said in Surrey, B.C., where he's playing in the Air Canada Championship. "I didn't really know how to react because there was so many people around and I didn't really want to spread the news before he had the press conference.

"I had a great time last year, there's no other tournament like it. It's more the Super Bowl in football or something like that. The crowd is unbelievable -- they're loud and energetic and the adrenaline is pumping pretty much from the first tee shot. It's a lot of fun."

Garcia, 21, will be playing in his second Ryder Cup while Parnevik, 36, will be taking part in his third. The two combined brilliantly at Brookline in 1999, winning three times and halving once in foursomes and fourball matches.

Although Torrance was always expected to name the pair as his wild-card picks, their selection leaves Europe without Ryder Cup veterans such as Olazabal, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ian Woosnam, who will now act as Torrance's vice-captain at The Belfry.

"Both have been there (at the Ryder Cup) before, both have done it and they have a lot of experience. That's who I wanted to pick," Torrance said.

The U.S. team is Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, David Duval, Mark Calcavecchia, David Toms, Davis Love, Scott Hoch, Jim Furyk, Hal
Sutton, Stewart Cink, Scott Verplank and Paul Azinger.

U.S. captain Curtis Strange believes Torrance showed "a lot of sense" by picking Garcia and Parnevik.

"Sam's decision to select this duo makes a lot of sense, especially after their performances at the Country Club in 1999," Strange said.

"In Sergio, Sam's got one of the most exciting young players in the world of golf today, not to mention an individual with a 3-1-1 Ryder Cup record," Strange said. "In Jesper, he's got a Ryder Cup veteran who is very familiar with the matches. We are finally getting closer to what everyone has been waiting for, for nearly two years."

Torrance said he was relieved to be done with this part of the job.

"It's been playing on my mind for months," he said. "I'm glad it's over now. We've got the team, we can look at pairings, we can get everything going."