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Wales Open heralds start of European Ryder Cup race

Paul McGinley of Ireland reacts near the Ryder Cup during a news conference after being named the European Ryder Cup captain at the St. Regi
Paul McGinley of Ireland reacts near the Ryder Cup during a news conference after being named the European Ryder Cup captain at the St. Regi

(Reuters) - The year-long quest to win a place in Europe's 2014 Ryder Cup team starts at this week's Wales Open and captain Paul McGinley cannot wait for the qualifying process to begin.

"This is another significant milestone in my captaincy and it is going to be an exciting campaign to see who can make the team for Gleneagles next year," McGinley told the tour website (www.europeantour.com) on Monday.

"There are so many talented players who have the potential to make the team and it will be very interesting for me to watch it evolve."

Irishman McGinley, who was appointed skipper in January, will compete this week as he keeps an eye on the early contenders for a place in his team for the biennial clash against the United States in Scotland.

Italy's Francesco Molinari is the only member of the triumphant side that won so dramatically in Illinois last September who will tee up at Celtic Manor in Thursday's opening round.

Celtic Manor was also the venue for Europe's Ryder Cup victory over the U.S. in 2010.

Among the other title hopefuls competing at the Wales Open are former British Open champion Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Alvaro Quiros, Ross Fisher, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Thomas Bjorn.

Britain's Tommy Fleetwood, 22, who captured his first victory in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles on Sunday, will also bid to make it back-to-back tour wins.

(Writing by Tony Jimenez; editing by Toby Davis)

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