Uncapped stars make Ryder push

If there are two uncapped players Colin Montgomerie wants in his Ryder Cup team, Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer are certainly top of the list.

And by tomorrow night their debuts at Celtic Manor in October could be just about in the bag.

McIlroy, 21 in May, lies third in the points race and, on three under par at halfway in the Alstom French Open, might yet challenge for a third professional title.

Kaymer is sixth in the table, but there is a massive prize of nearly £409,000 up for grabs at Le Golf National and entering the third round the 25-year-old defending champion was nine under, just a shot behind leader Alejandro Canizares.

Montgomerie’s predecessor, Nick Faldo, took Kaymer with him to Valhalla two years ago just to get a flavour of the match.

The young German had already won twice by then and last summer he added the French and Scottish Open crowns in successive weeks.

Then came a go-karting crash in which he broke three toes, but after surgery and two months on the sidelines Kaymer finished second in his first event back and this January won in Abu Dhabi for the second time in three years.

A return to the world’s top 10 is now his for the taking and he said: “My dad is coming, so I’m really looking forward to the weekend.”

Canizares was just six years old when his father, Jose-Maria, became a Ryder Cup hero at The Belfry, beating Ken Green on the final green of a match which guaranteed Europe kept the trophy.

Turning professional himself in 2006, Alejandro won in Russia on only his third European Tour start. He had to go to the qualifying school last November, but having survived that he can emulate Simon Khan and Fredrik Andersson Hed this season by winning just a few months later.

The big guns are all still within range, however.

All four of the event’s world top-10 players are on three under, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter sitting alongside McIlroy.

Westwood and Poulter were both doubtful on Wednesday because of leg problems, but, while Poulter has made a good recovery from his infected insect bite, Westwood was limping badly towards the end of his 69 yesterday.

Because there was a fear he had a blood clot the world number three was taken to hospital on the eve of the tournament and although further tests eased that worry he thinks the swelling could be related to an Achilles tendon problem he has had all year.

It did not stop him finishing second in The Masters in April and he is keeping his fingers crossed that it will not affect his chances in The Open at St Andrews the week after next.

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