Sport Golf

Sunday 18 March 2018

Edoardo demands Ryder recognition

Bernie McGuire at Gleneagles

Italy's Edoardo Molinari, the older brother of Ryder Cup rookie Francesco, handed European team captain Colin Montgomerie yet another wild-card selection headache when he said it would be wrong if he is not chosen on the European team.

Monty will name his three Celtic Manor wild-card picks at the close of today's Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

The Scot last night hosted two of his vice-captains, Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjorn, to dinner where Montgomerie was no doubt looking to move closer to finalising his 12-man Celtic Manor side.

But if anything, the make-up of his European team is no closer to being finalised, given the look of the leaderboard at the course located less than a 15-minute drive from Monty's mansion.

Molinari recorded a third-round 69 to move into second place, just a shot behind Francesco who signed for a 68 to lead on 10-under par.

This means the Molinari brothers will play in the final round at Gleneagles together, with Monty, who is also the tournament chairman, keeping a close eye.

But then Monty's also got to focus on England's Simon Dyson, who has only to finish first or second to secure an automatic Celtic Manor spot. Dyson carded a 70 yesterday to be one of four players tied in third place at eight-under.

And Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez added to the Ryder Cup selection drama in signing for a 71 to lie just three off the pace at seven-under and tied with Ireland's Damien McGrane, who sparked his round of 70 by holing an eight-foot putt for eagle at the second.

Jimenez currently holds the ninth qualifying spot and if Dyson should win, the pony-tailed Malaga player would lose his place in the team if he finishes outside the top-nine this evening.

Edoardo Molinari knows he can't break into the team if he were to win, but the 29-year-old made it abundantly clear that he expects a call-up if he does claim victory.

"I would be very upset if I win and he doesn't pick me, because even if I don't win, I'm probably one of the candidates, so I think if you win the last event, and you don't get picked, there's something wrong," said Molinari.

"If you have one of the candidates winning the last event, it's not automatic, but it's a well-deserved pick. Even if I finish first or second I've had six top-fives this year already, and I had a win; and tomorrow could be the seventh top-five this year. I don't think some of the other candidates have as many.

If Molinari should win for a second time in Scotland this year, Monty knows he'll be under even more pressure to select the 29-year-old as the ideal four ball and foursomes partner for his brother.

"Edoardo is doing the same as Peter Hanson did last week, coming to an event having to win and to make my decision even harder than it is and all credit to him," said Monty. "The same with Simon Dyson. He has to win to get in automatically and both of them are doing superbly well and it's a credit to the European Tour and the strength of it to perform the way they are."

Sunday Independent

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