Tuesday 20 February 2018

Hanson shakes up Ryder race

Ireland's Peter Lawrie watches his drive on the 16th hole yesterday.
Ireland's Peter Lawrie watches his drive on the 16th hole yesterday.

William S Callahan

Peter Hanson leapt from 15th to eighth in Europe's Ryder Cup race after winning a dramatic and nerve-wracking Czech Open with an 18-foot play-off putt yesterday -- denying Ireland's Peter Lawrie.

And it means that Padraig Harrington, Paul Casey, Luke Donald and Justin Rose cannot all play at Celtic Manor in October. Captain Colin Montgomerie will have to leave one of them out when he names his three wild cards next Sunday.

Controversially, Casey, Harrington, Donald and Rose have all elected to stay in America next week for the start of the money-spinning FedEx Cup play-off series rather than travel to Gleneagles for the Johnnie Walker Championship.

Now one of them will pay the price, and it could be more than one because Italian Edoardo Molinari, whose brother and World Cup-winning partner Francesco yesterday secured his debut Ryder Cup appearance, needs a wild card as well.

Hanson would have settled for climbing to ninth, but he goes to eighth because Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez managed only a closing 73 on the Prosper course he designed.

That dropped him from joint second overnight into a tie for seventh and it could cost him dear. The 46-year-old does not intend going to Scotland either, preferring to attend a nephew's wedding, and could be knocked out of the team by Ross McGowan, Simon Dyson or Alvaro Quiros.

Dyson would have gone into the top nine by winning today, but a 72 saw him slip from joint second to fifth. He, like Quiros, will have to win next Sunday to make the team, while McGowan, joint 25th today, needs a top-two finish.

Hanson, who was not even in the penultimate event of the year-long race until he received an invitation last Monday, looked like blowing a four-stroke lead as the pressure mounted on the final day in Celadna.

But the 32-year-old birdied the long 16th, then parred the last two to tie with Lawrie and Englishman Gary Boyd on the 10-under-par mark of 278.

They had shot 66 and 68 to his error-ridden 74, but after all parred the first extra hole, Hanson took his chance on the next after the other two had both missed their birdie attempts.

"To make that putt feels fantastic," he said after taking his European Tour play-off record to three wins out of three.

"And to know I had to come here and win (to climb into the top nine on the points table) and pull it off feels great.

"There's another week to go, but it looks so much better now."

Irish Independent

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