Irish Open shakes up hunt for European Ryder Cup berths

THE final leaderboard at the 3 Irish Open had a significant impact on the shape of Europe’s Ryder Cup team with the showdown against the United States at Celtic Manor now just eight weeks away.

Ross Fisher’s €500,000 first prize at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club moved the Englishman into one of the nine automatic qualifying spots for Colin Montgomerie’s team, catapulting him into one of the five berths on offer on the European points list.

Pádraig Harrington’s final round of 64 on the Killeen Course earned the Irishman a €330,000 runners-up cheque to advance to ninth on the same list.

With the leading four on the world points list and next five on the European points list at close of play in the Johnnie Walker Championship on August 29 making up Montgomerie’s automatic selections, that leaves Harrington just one place off the pace, having jumped from 17th to 10th, less than €55,000 in prize money behind MiguelAngel Jimenez, who is now in the ninth and last spot with four weeks to go.

Fisher and Harrington’s boost saw England’s Ross McGowan drop out of an automatic spot for the first time since September 2009, when the current qualification cycle began.

And Harrington’s pedigree and good form puts him in a very strong position for one of Montgomerie’s three wildcard selections as the world’s best players head to Akron, Ohio, for the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational this week, followed by the final major of the year, the US PGA Championship, at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

Rival captain Corey Pavin will know his eight automatic qualifiers on August 15, after the US PGA and he looks to have more concerns than Monty, with Tiger Woods still out of the automatic spots, Anthony Kim injured and occupying fifth place and the unheralded Jeff Overton vaulting from 10th to fourth spot after his second place behind Australian Stuart Appleby in the Greenbrier Classic on the PGA Tour.

World number one Woods returns to action this week at Firestone Country Club, a course on which he has won seven WGC-Bridgestone titles, and Pavin will be hoping for an eighth to free up his wildcard options.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox