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Europe will be the favorite to win the 2006 Ryder Cup, Montgomerie says

The Europeans will be favored for the first time ever, says Colin Montgomerie, as they try to win three straight for the first time.

September 29, 2005

BILLINGHAM, England (PA) -- Whether he makes the team himself or not, Colin Montgomerie is full of optimism about Europe's chances in the Ryder Cup next year.

After captaining Britain and Ireland to what in the end was a convincing 16
1/2 - 11 1/2 victory over Continental Europe in the Seve Trophy last week -- their third successive win in the Ryder Cup-style event just for the Europeans -- Montgomerie was minced no words.

"I think we will start favorites for the first time ever," said the Scot, a key member of the last seven European Ryder Cup teams. "And whoever is in that 12 has a fantastic opportunity of playing on a team that wins the Ryder Cup three times in a row -- the first-ever European team to do so."

Montgomerie expects Captain Ian Woosnam's line-up to be packed with British and Irish players, just as Bernhard Langer's was in Detroit last September.

"We were saying not long ago that Lee Westwood was the only England player in the world's top 100," said Montgomerie. "Now we have several -- and not just top 100 players, but top-20 and top-30 players. And I expect a few on this [Britain-Ireland Seve Trophy] team that were not playing at Oakland Hills can look forward to playing at The K Club."

England's Nick Dougherty, Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell and the Welsh pair of Stephen Dodd and Bradley Dredge are the four who will hope to graduate from the 2005 Seve Trophy to the 2006 Ryder Cup.

But the stars of the Britain-Ireland win over Continental Europe were Englishmen Paul Casey and David Howell, both of whom contributed four points out of a possible five.

For Howell, it was a continuation of the best season of his career. For Casey, it was further proof that he is over his midsummer blues.

"I think my golf is great now," said Casey, who also won the WGC-World Cup with Luke Donald last year. "I am looking forward to the rest of the season, to trying to qualify for the Ryder Cup and getting back into the big events."

Copyright 2005 PA Sport. All rights reserved.

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