Tuesday 23 January 2018

Monty set for some tough decisions

Padraig Harrington has not made into the top nine after missing the cut at Whistling Straits. Photo: Getty Images
Padraig Harrington has not made into the top nine after missing the cut at Whistling Straits. Photo: Getty Images

Martin Kaymer has decided not to play the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles next week following his first major victory.

But it is the absence of other stars that is looming as a real headache for Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie.

Kaymer's USPGA Championship triumph secured a debut for him, but it also knocked Luke Donald out of an automatic spot.

Justin Rose and Padraig Harrington have not made into the top nine either after missing the cut at Whistling Straits, and while Paul Casey did climb into the last qualifying spot he - like the others - has decided not to play in Scotland and could be knocked out.

Montgomerie has only three wild cards to hand out and, as everybody knows, four into three does not go.

And it is not just four. Edoardo Molinari - Scottish Open champion and a World Cup winner with brother Francesco, who is on course to make the side - might well need a pick as well.

Henrik Stenson, laid low by illness since coming third in The Open last month, and 2008 European number one Robert Karlsson have not qualified either, while Sergio Garcia, an ever-present since his debut in 1999, has been unable to find the spark which Montgomerie knows would have been another asset to the team.

Now that Rose could not make the top nine even by going and winning both this week in the Czech Open and then at Gleneagles, the focus of attention will be on Casey, Harrington and Donald.

They all want to play in the money-spinning FedEx Cup play-offs in America as well, and although the first of them is next week it does not count for Ryder Cup points, something that Donald discovered only a few days ago and Harrington remembered late on.

Edoardo Molinari is not a member of the US Tour and will be in Scotland.

"I think it will be difficult at the moment (to make the team), but hopefully my good play this year is enough," said last year's Challenge Tour winner.

"I only started getting the points in January so it was very difficult for me as I lost four months last year. So I think to be the first guy outside the automatic spots having only played eight months I hope is enough."

His partnership with his brother is a strong thing in his favour too and so, he hopes, is turning up.

"Colin at the beginning of the year said he would like all the players to play Celtic Manor (the Wales Open in June) and Gleneagles.

"I will play both as I think it is good to show you are making an effort to make the team. Obviously other players have different plans.

"I don't think that will make a difference, but I am making every effort to make the team and that's all I can do."

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