Casey facing anxious wait over Ryder place
Under normal circumstances Paul Casey would not be paying close attention to what is happening at the Czech Open. Nor would Padraig Harrington, Justin Rose or Luke Donald. But these are not normal circumstances.
A tournament featuring only two of the world's top 50 -- Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez and Swede Peter Hanson -- might have a massive part to play in Europe's Ryder Cup race. And it could leave Casey, Harrington, Rose and Donald knowing at least one of them will not be playing against the Americans at Celtic Manor in October.
While they controversially stay away from the final two counting events, England's Ross McGowan and Simon Dyson have joined Hanson in a bid to oust Casey from the ninth and last automatic qualifying spot.
McGowan, whose hopes of a debut have suffered through wrist and shoulder problems this summer, needs a top-four finish at the Prosper Resort in Celadna on Sunday. Dyson -- joint 12th with Casey in the US PGA Championship at the weekend -- and Hanson, eighth in the Bridgestone World Championship two weeks ago, need to win. But even if the trio fall short, they still have next week's Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles to come.
The race is not over yet either for Oliver Wilson, the Mansfield golfer who earned his first cap under Nick Faldo in Louisville two years ago.
Wilson has still to achieve his first European Tour victory, but a first or second place now would put him in with a chance of retaining his place as he travels on to Scotland.
As for Jimenez, he is currently eighth on the table, but a fourth cap is not yet in the bag for the 46-year-old -- and he might need to add to his points on the course he co-designed because he is then going to a nephew's wedding rather than to Gleneagles.
"It is a very important week for me as I am on the borderline of the Ryder Cup and need to get some points," Jimenez said. The Spanish veteran missed the cut by three shots at Whistling Straits, where McGowan slumped to a closing 81 on Sunday and the Englishman almost pulled out of the Czech trip due to his wrist injury.
McGowan has not had a top-four finish all year, but last season's Madrid Masters champion and Dubai World Championship runner-up is going through the pain barrier -- with the help of strapping and painkillers -- in a last-ditch bid to be part of Colin Montgomerie's side. "I almost didn't play in Akron (the Bridgestone World Championship) and the same with the PGA," he said. "It was good to make the cut considering, but by Sunday I was tired. It's frustrating and for my long-term career it probably needs rest."
Away from the Ryder Cup, Shane Lowry leads the Irish challenge in Celadna. Following a good opening round, last year's Irish Open champion missed the cut at the US PGA, and will be hoping for a better display -- as will Damien McGrane, Peter Lawrie, Gary Murphy, Michael Hoey and Simon Thornton.
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