European Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam will be the most interested spectator at the Nord-Eichenried Golf Club near Munich from this morning, as the race for Ryder Cup ranking points enters its very last phase at the BMW International Open.
There are all manner of permutations possible as a strong field lines up in Bavaria. The men with most to lose are Jose Maria Olazabal (who has kept to his preseason promise that he would not line up this week), Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley. Those three men all occupy the final qualifying positions (see below) and poor performances by Harrington or McGinley coupled with top two finishes by John Bickerton, Johan Edfors or Paul Broadhurst could see the final three qualifiers all change.
Another issue to be resolved is the form of some of those players hoping to be selected as wildcard picks by Woosnam. England’s Lee Westwood is a long way off from qualifying automatically and will therefore be hoping to impress Woosnam this week, despite the fact that he is suffering badly from a virus.
“I’m extra keen to show Woosie that I deserve a wildcard place,” he said yesterday.
“I’ve been feeling ill for a few days though and am far from 100% fit. I’m going to start the tournament and see how it goes. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.”
If Harrington and McGinley both miss the cut then their automatic places are under considerable threat. This, combined with a win for Bickerton or second place finishes for Edfors or Broadhurst, can see both men overhauled in the points list. Harrington and McGinley both have previous Ryder Cup experience and Woosnam has been counting on their qualification for some time, so this eventuality could significantly derail his plans. Edfors, Broadhurst and Bickerton could also overtake Olazabal, who may pay the ultimate price for skipping the tournament.
McGinley has only one top ten finish since January but the form of his rivals has not been particularly impressive. Despite starting very well last season (he was 4th on the list last October) he is frustrated with his own form and surprised that he finds himself still in pole position.
“I’m lucky to be in the team at this point after the way I’ve played,” he said.
“Most guys have at least had a 3 or 4 week period when they have played their best golf and earned themselves lots of points. I haven’t had a purple patch myself but am still hanging in there.”
Should any of McGinley, Olazabal and Harrington fall out of the automatic places then it will be interesting to see whether or not Woosnam considers them for his captain’s picks. Many in the media are predicting that Woosnam will pick Darren Clarke and Westwood due to their fine recent records in the Ryder Cup, but such predictions could be redundant should the BMW International Open provide a week of shocks.
Current European Ryder Cup Standings
World Points List
1 LUKE DONALD (Eng), 235.36
2 SERGIO GARCIA (Spn), 225.88
3 HENRIK STENSON (Swe), 214.70
4 DAVID HOWELL (Eng), 211.37
5 JOSE MARIA OLAZABAL (Spn), 208.14
6 Colin Montgomerie (Sco), 207.88
7 Paul Casey (Eng), 182.81
8 Padraig Harrington (Ire), 158.05
9 Carl Pettersson (Swe), 157.71
10 Robert Karlsson (Swe), 155.86
1 COLIN MONTGOMERIE (Sco), 2,435,883
2 David Howell (Eng), 2,314,120
3 Sergio Garcia (Spn), 1,964,354
4 ROBERT KARLSSON (Swe), 1,930,902
5 Henrik Stenson (Swe), 1,916,750
6 PAUL CASEY (Eng), 1,915,634
7 PADRAIG HARRINGTON (Ire), 1,562,823
8 Luke Donald (Eng), 1,506,818
9 PAUL MCGINLEY (Ire), 1,499,849
10 Jose Maria Olazabal (Spn), 1,446,006
Current qualifiers shown in capitals. Top five players from the World List qualify automatically, joined by the top five players from the European List that have not already qualified via the World List. Captain Ian Woosnam then adds two wildcard picks. The team is announced on Sunday following the final qualifying event, the BMW International Open. The Ryder Cup takes place from September 22-24 at the K Club in Ireland.