LONDON (Reuters) - Ryder Cup mainstays Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell may be on the outside looking in on Europe’s team at the moment but vice-captain Sam Torrance has no doubt that both will be in the side come September.
The top nine in the points list qualify automatically for Europe’s title defense against the United States in Scotland, with skipper Paul McGinley also having three wildcard choices up his sleeve to complete his 12-man team.
Westwood, who has featured in the biennial event eight times in a row, and 2010 U.S. Open champion McDowell, who has played in the last three editions and claimed the winning point in Wales four years ago, are well outside the top nine.
“Obviously we want Lee in the team,” the 60-year-old Torrance told Reuters in a telephone interview from Gleneagles, the Ryder Cup venue.
”He is a fantastic player and we’d love him in there. I don’t think his form over the last few months is of any concern to Paul.
“I think he should put him in the team straight away, he’s a man for the big occasion. The same applies to G-Mac, I‘m sure he’ll be in the team,” added Torrance who will be one of McGinley’s deputies along with Ireland’s Des Smyth.
Westwood has slipped to 32nd in the world after riding high at the top of the rankings three years ago.
The automatic Ryder Cup qualifying positions, with almost two months to go before the team is finalised, are now occupied by Victor Dubuisson, Henrik Stenson, Jamie Donaldson, Thomas Bjorn, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose and Luke Donald.
Also among the notable absentees apart from Westwood and McDowell are 2012 heroes Ian Poulter, Francesco Molinari, Nicolas Colsaerts, Paul Lawrie and Peter Hanson.
“Our team is looking very strong at the moment,” said Torrance, a representative of Standard Life Investments, worldwide partner of the Ryder Cup.
”There are a couple of names not in it while Donald is right on the borderline and my fellow Scot Stephen Gallacher is another I would like to see in the team.
“But it’s impossible to say what the final team is going to be at this stage. There are still two months to go and lots of big events to play so there could be huge changes yet.”
All the leading players are gearing up for the British Open at Hoylake that starts on July 17 and Torrance is tipping world number 20 McDowell to land the third major of the season.
”I’ve got a strong feeling he’s going to win the Open this year,“ said the Scot. ”Hoylake is just idyllic for his type of game.
”It’s a very demanding course but it’s very much about hitting fairways and greens. When Tiger Woods won there in 2006 he was sometimes hitting five and six-irons off the tee.
”G-Mac will be a bit like that and with his low ball flight I think he’s perfect for seaside golf.
“It’s like a chess match going round Hoylake. It’s a wonderful test of golf but you’ve got to be very tentative and careful.”
Torrance, Europe’s winning Ryder Cup captain in 2002 and the man who holed the winning putt at The Belfry in 1985, does not plan to be at Royal Liverpool Golf Club for the Open but he cannot wait to return to Europe’s team room at Gleneagles.
“It’s a great honor to be invited back into the fold, it’s something I didn’t really expect,” he explained. “But I cannot wait.”
Editing by Josh Reich