Tuesday 20 February 2018

Hanson hits out over Harrington absence

Bernie McGuire at Gleneagles

Potential Ryder Cup rookie Peter Hanson has joined those critical of the likes of Padraig Harrington and other seasoned European Ryder Cup stars who have chosen not to contest this week's final qualifying event at Gleneagles in Scotland.

Hanson moved into eighth place and an automatic Celtic Manor qualifying position following Sunday's Czech Open play-off success against Ireland's Peter Lawrie and England's Gary Boyd.

There are three players -- Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez (ninth on the points table) along with the England pair of Ross McGowan (12th) and Simon Dyson (13th) -- who can mathematically still overtake Hanson and bump him out of automatic selection at this week's Johnnie Walker Championship.

However, lying just behind Jimenez, as the current 10th and 11th-placed players on the standings, are Paul Casey and Harrington. It was this duo's commitment to the Ryder Cup cause, along with that of Luke Donald and Justin Rose, that Hanson was questioning yesterday, with each contesting this week's FedEx Cup opener, The Barclays, in New Jersey.

"I can understand why they are not here but then, when you're that close, maybe you should reconsider and try to make the team," said Hanson. "As a European player, if you're that close to making the team, and people are talking about Paul and Padraig, then you really should be here and playing.

"If the Ryder Cup doesn't matter that much to you, then you might play somewhere else. Or, if you know that you're going to get a pick, it's a calculation."

Also having a dig at the absent foursome was Italy's Edoardo Molinari, who is presently outside automatic selection in 16th place. Molinari will fall 11,948 points short of qualifying even if he captures the €282,772 first-prize cheque for a second success in Scotland this season. However, a victory here would put the reigning Scottish Open champion ahead of Casey and Harrington on the table and into serious reckoning for a captain's pick.

"If the Ryder Cup is a goal of your season, then you come here and play Gleneagles," said Molinari.

And the Italian has vowed also to make Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie's job difficult in the lead-up to Sunday's full European team announcement.

"I am only thinking about the tournament this week as the Ryder Cup was always going to be a very long shot, so if I don't make it I won't be too disappointed," he said.


"But it would be nice to play well and put Monty under some pressure this week. Percentage wise, right now, I think it's 90pc that I'm not going to make it.

"But then Harrington, Casey, Donald and Rose are out of the team and they're not playing this week, so they have no chance of making the team. It's going to be hard to pick me but if I win this week it would be a different story."

The selection of Edoardo Molinari would be an ideal choice to partner his younger brother, Francesco, in the fourball and foursomes. And it's this all-Italian combination that Edoardo is hoping will sway Monty in picking the elder sibling.

"Francesco and myself would be a very good pairing," he said, "and Colin knows it."

Irish Independent

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