EUROPEAN Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie today names his two vice captains for October’s renewal against the United States but is facing tougher selection problems over his three wild-card picks for Celtic Manor.
With 73 days to go before the Americans begin the defence of the trophy it won at Valhalla for the first time since 1999, there is an array of European talent outside the nine automatic qualification spots following Sunday’s Open Championship finale at St Andrews.
World number eight Paul Casey, who tied for third at the Home of Golf, leads a list of those on the outside looking in that also includes Pádraig Harrington, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Robert Karlsson, Ross Fisher and Edoardo Molinari, whose brother Francesco currently occupies the seventh spot on the combined points list. The European team will be determined on the rankings as they stand on Sunday, August 29 at the conclusion of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, with Montgomerie selecting his wild cards the same night.
That leaves six weeks for Monty’s team to take shape, with the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA Championship at the focal point of the final push for places.
Those tournaments will be the final two events to earn one of the eight automatic spots on the US team, August 15, the last day of the US PGA, marking the cut off with American captain Corey Pavin declaring his four wild cards three weeks later on September 7. Tiger Woods’ tie for 23rd at St Andrews consolidated the world number one’s seventh-place ranking in the US standings but of more concern to Pavin may be that the top American finishers in the Open, joint seventh-placed Sean O’Hair and Nick Watney, are outside the automatic spots.
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