Europe’s Ryder Cup race might yet come down to the final hole at Gleneagles tomorrow – a hole on which England’s Chris Gane scored 17 just seven years ago.
For Simon Dyson to knock Miguel Angel Jimenez out of the side he has to win the Johnnie Walker Championship and the 46-year-old Spaniard has to be outside the top nine.
They resumed today in joint seventh place, only three shots behind leaders David Lynn, Gary Boyd and Julien Guerrier.
Even if Jimenez does what he has to do Dyson would still get in if he wins and Peter Hanson is outside the top 43.
That looked unlikely as the third round began with the Swede also on six under par – but not as unlikely as Alvaro Quiros grabbing the victory he needs just to have a chance.
On one under Quiros made the halfway cut with nothing to spare and was in a tie for 49th.
“I know that I’m not going to have chances for anything – for the Ryder Cup, for the tournament,” said the 27-year-old big-hitter, effectively throwing in the towel. “So it’s just a weekend. Unfortunately it’s just a weekend.”
Compare that to Dyson.
“If I play the best 36 holes of my life I’ll play in the best tournament of my life,” said the 32-year-old from York.
“I know what I’ve got to do and I’ll just give it a go. If I’m three behind even with nine holes to go I still fancy my chances.”
Amazingly, brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari were alongside Dyson, Jimenez and Hanson when they teed off again.
Francesco is able to relax after Ross McGowan’s withdrawal through injury on Thursday guaranteed him a debut at Celtic Manor in October.
Edoardo’s only way in, though, is as one of Colin Montgomerie’s three wild cards – and is in competition with Padraig Harrington, Paul Casey, Luke Donald and Justin Rose (the so-called FedEx Four) for them.
“I promise we won’t lose a point,” said the Italian, hoping that his World Cup-winning partnership with his brother might persuade Europe’s captain to go for him ahead of two of the stars who chose not to come back across the Atlantic for the last two weeks of qualifying.
Montgomerie will meet with assistants Paul McGinley, Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn tonight and announce his decision tomorrow night.
Harrington, Casey and Donald are the favourites and the Dubliner certainly got a glowing reference from Montgomerie after moving into contention for the first of the FedEx Cup play-off events.
“Padraig, when his back’s to the wall, has done awfully well in the past,” he commented. “All credit to him for showing some form when he has to. I was very interested in the way he reacted to taking six at the last to miss the cut by one (at the US PGA two weeks ago).
“Within five minutes of signing his card he was on the range. That says a lot about what he wants to do and wants to achieve. That says a lot.”
McGinley did speak yesterday, however, about the fact that Harrington was just 1,000 Euros outside the top nine on the points table and elected to stay in the States.
“Make up your own mind. It’s disappointing,” he told reporters. “I’ve got private views, but I think they should remain private.”
Presumably Montgomerie will get to hear them tonight.