With a brooding sky unleashing furiously upon Kiawah Island to suspend the third round, there is time for Ryder Cup contemplation.
Team captains Jose Maria Olazabal and Davis Love III, both of whom missed the halfway cut here on Friday, are monitoring performances in the 2012 PGA Championship intently.
From a European perspective, unless something dramatic occurs between now and the Ryder Cup, the following seven players have one foot in the European team:
Rory McIlroy (European points 1st; World points 1st)
Justin Rose (European 2nd; World 3rd)
Graeme McDowell (European 3rd; World 5th)
Paul Lawrie (European 4th; World 7th)
Francesco Molinari (European 5th; World 6th)
Luke Donald (European 7th; World 2nd)
Lee Westwood (European 10th; World 4th)
Olazabal will be keeping a particularly close eye on a clutch of players who, as Lady Gaga might put it, are on the edge of glory.
Sweden’s Peter Hanson played in the 2010 Ryder Cup and he is well positioned to make the team again. He stands eighth in both the Europe and World Points lists, inside the qualifying places, and he is also tied for seventh after 12 holes of the PGA Championship’s third round. A strong finish to the PGA will see Hanson rise up the team rankings.
Ian Poulter dropped a shot this afternoon in his bid to claim his first major title this weekend, but the Englishman remains tied seventh overnight – with Hanson among others – and Olazabal would be delighted if this three-time Ryder Cup player and match play specialist could jump from 12th on the World List into the top 10.
Padraig Harrington began the PGA Championship as an outside bet for the Ryder Cup despite having played in the past six. However, the Irishman was one of a select group of players to shoot 32, four under par, over the front nine on the Ocean Course today, to launch a challenge for his second PGA Championship title. He was also fortunate to complete his third round today, unlike most of the other names on the leaderboard.
Interestingly, Sweden’s Carl Pettersson, fourth at the PGA overnight, is currently ineligible for the European team as he is not a member of the European Tour. The only way he could get into the team, were Olazabal determined to pick him, would be for the North Carolina-based Pettersson to be made an honorary lifetime member of the European Tour.
If any of England’s David Lynn (tied 11th in the PGA Championship), the Netherlands’ Joost Luiten (tied 11th), Welshman Jamie Donaldson (tied 11th) and Germany’s Marcel Siem (tied 19th) can produce the golf of their lives tomorrow, they will also enter serious contention for a trip to Medinah next month. Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn will also be looking for a strong finish to the PGA to strengthen their own serious bids.
The prospects are not so good for 2010 PGA Championship winner and former world number one Martin Kaymer, and Olazabal’s compatriot Sergio Garcia. Kaymer played in the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, while Garcia missed 2010 but played in the five previous Ryder Cups, but they both missed the cut on Friday and are not in good form.
Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts, who is enjoying the season of his career on the European Tour so far this year, also missed the cut to dent his chances, as did another Spaniard, Rafa Cabrera-Bello.
Story courtesy of Mercedes-Benz, official car of the 2012 PGA Championship