TALKING A GOOD GAME With the Ryder Cup selections fast approaching, USA captain Hal Sutton chose to be at Troon while his Europe counterpart, Bernhard Langer, watched events from his sofa in Florida. Langer explained that his presence might have been a "distraction" to candidates for the matches at Oakland Hills in September.

The word off the course is that Langer could be doing more to prepare his team, and that Sutton is already ahead on points. Not surprising then that the German was quick out of the blocks last week to stress how "thrilled" he was by the performances of several of the leading European players such as Lee Westwood, Thomas Levet and Darren Clarke at the British Open.

Although there haven't been public accusations that Europe's captain is too handsoff at this stage, he also said if anyone thought his team wouldn't be strongly bonded, then they should believe that at their peril. "There are few more competitive people in sport than myself, and I'll leave nothing to chance, " Langer warned no one in particular.

He definitely doth protest too much.

TAKING THE SCENIC ROUTE TO FAME Todd Hamilton's odyssey on far-flung tours brings to mind the trials and tribulations endured by a couple of other recent major championship winners.

Top of the list is Vijay Singh, who was chucked off the Asian Tour in 1985 after being accused of cheating during the Indonesian Open.

Following a couple of years in the wilderness and a club pro job in Borneo which earned him $50 a week, his rehabilitation included wins in Malaysia, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe and Morocco before success in Europe and then America.

His victories at the USPGA and at the Masters, as well as topping last year's US Tour money list, are now history.

After grinding his way through Asia, South Africa and several of America's mini tours, Tom Lehman was offered the job of coach at the University of Minnesota but turned it down because he was asked to rent skis out of the golf shop during the winter.

A couple of years later, he won the British Open at Lytham.