Lee Westwood, certain of his place at Oakland Hills next month, still feels Colin Montgomerie is worthy of a Ryder Cup wild card, even though he has finished only 70th and 58th in his last two tournaments.
European captain Bernhard Langer – the unbeaten Montgomerie’s partner in The Belfry win two years ago – reveals his two selections in Munich next Sunday and it is shaping up to be a tough choice.
But Westwood, whose ninth-place finish in the NEC world championship in Akron last night made him the joint leading European with German Alex Cejka, said: “I think the team will be stronger with Monty in it.
“Bernhard has only got two picks, though, and I’ve no idea whatsoever. Who’s to know what he’s thinking and a lot can happen this week.”
Indeed it can – Westwood’s wife Laurae is expecting their second child any time now and he could miss his defence of the BMW International Open starting on Thursday to stay with her.
“I’d like to go and defend oviously, but we’ve been told it could be between Wednesday and Sunday and the decision’s still got to be made,” said the Worksop golfer.
After the break-up of his marriage in April, it is not such an exciting time for Montgomerie in his private life, of course, and he admitted last week he is having real problems sleeping.
His weight loss is a consequence of that – with less family time, the father-of-three says he has been exercising more to make himself tired.
The 40-year-old, with one of the best European records in Ryder Cup history (16 wins and five halves in 28 games and no singles defeats), feels he has nothing to prove, but he will be attempting to any way.
“I want to play well in Munich. I want to play well every week, so it’s no different,” he commented.
Langer said yesterday: “It would have been nice to see Monty contend, but he is not far away.”
Half of the team is known now – Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Westwood and uncapped Frenchman Thomas Levet.
Paul Casey is all-but-there, but David Howell, Ian Poulter and Paul McGinley, Europe’s match-winner last time, are trying to hang on to the last three automatic spots.
Jean-Francois Remesy, Joakim Haeggman, Brian Davis, Fredrik Jacobson, Raphael Jacquelin and Graeme McDowell are the ones still in with a chance of forcing their way in, while for the two wild card spots Montgomerie, Luke Donald, Jacobson and Alex Cejka appear the main contenders – plus McGinley if he falls out of the top 10.
The Dubliner, who has not had a week off since mid-June, stated after coming 46th in Akron: “It’s going to be an exciting week in Germany.
“I just battled as hard as I could and I can’t complain about my finishing position because I did well to achieve that.
“I fought as hard as Hell and I’ll see how the cards fall now, re-group and go out again.
“Somebody could have a hot week and jump me, but I could have a hot week. The destiny is in my hands – if I win the tournament I’m in the team.”
Donald, on other hand, said: “Now it’s out of my hands, but hopefully I’ve played solid enough this month to catch Bernhard’s attention, which I think I have.”
He started August by winning in Sweden, was in contention for three days at the US PGA and after seven holes of the final round of his first world championship was joint second before slipping back to 16th.
“It’s wait and see, though. In an ideal world I’d have liked to have finished off both the last two weeks better, but there was a lot of good stuff in there,” said Donald.
Langer has taken it as “a sign of resignation” that Jesper Parnevik, a member of the last three teams, has pulled out of this week.
Parnevik, who needed a wild card, has had one top-10 finish in the last six months and Langer said: “I think he knows deep down he probably won’t get picked.
“I certainly have three or four guys who have been playing better over the last six to eight weeks that I will probably go to, but I have not told him ’No’ yet.”