The Johnnie Walker Championship returns to the majestic surroundings of Gleneagles where Scotland’s Marc Warren will defend the title. This is the last event where players can earn Ryder Cup qualifying points and the automatic qualifiers will be named at the conclusion of the tournament.
Going into the event there’s all to play for as only €230,000 separate Justin Rose at 8th in the list of automatic qualifiers and Nick Dougherty in 14th. Those currently in the last three qualifying spots are Justin Rose, Soren Hansen and Oliver Wilson. Martin Kaymer is the 11th man followed by Ian Poulter, Ross Fisher and Nick Dougherty. Poulter has taken himself out of the race to earn one of the automatic berths in the team by announcing his withdrawal from Gleneagles. He’s decided to play in the US and to rely on receiving one of Nick Faldo’s two “wild card” picks. These too will be announced after this week’s tournaments. One man who is looking increasingly likely to be offered a spot is Darren Clarke. The Ulsterman won impressively in Holland last week and he arrives in Gleneagles on great form. “I needed to play well in Holland to make Nick have a look at me regarding a pick and hopefully I have done that and can go to Gleneagles and play well there as well.” He said.
The PGA Centenary Course is a fitting venue for deciding the final European side that will head for Valhalla, as the 2014 Cup will be decided over the Perthshire track.
It’s the 10th anniversary of the Johnnie Walker Championship and Marc Warren is confident of defending his title. “The form from the last two weeks has been really encouraging.” He said. “I played some great stuff in Holland and I can take that into Gleneagles. I think having a month off in the summer has really helped me. I have done a lot of good work on the range and the game feels very close to being back.”
Venue: Centenary Course, Gleneagles, Perthshire
Date: Aug 28-31
Course stats: 7,320 yards, par 73
Purse: £1,400,000 Winner: £233,000
Defending champion: Marc Warren (-12)
Thursday 28 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 10am
Friday 29 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 10am
Saturday 30 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 1pm
Sunday 31 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 12pm
Ross Fisher – The Englishman will be desperate to earn enough money to creep into one of the final Ryder Cup qualifying spots. He’s unlikely to be one of Faldo’s “wild card” picks so will have to play his way into the team for Valhalla.
Alastair Forsyth – Home players always seem to raise their game for this event and the Scot is on good form following his ninth place finish in the USPGA.
Darren Clarke – After a victory in Holland last week Clarke’s game is on a high. Look for him to take that form into this week and secure a spot in Faldo’s side.
Key hole: 18th. A par five of 533 yards it gives players a real chance of finishing with a birdie, or maybe even better. There could be big swings right at the death.
Skills required: Breaking free of the pack. Scoring at the Centenary Course tends to be good and the field seems to bunch. Someone will probably win it by a nose.