Tuesday 11 December 2018

Harrington will have to wait to get Ryder nod

Pádraig Harrington. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Pádraig Harrington. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Brian Keogh

Hopes of white smoke in Pádraig Harrington's quest for the 2020 Ryder Cup captaincy are unlikely before Christmas.

CEO Keith Pelley had hoped that the European Tour's five-strong selection committee would be able to announce its decision before the holidays.

But the Irish Independent understands he has yet to sit down with a representative from the Players' Committee and immediate past captains Paul McGinley, Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn to discuss the captaincy, which means a pre-Christmas announcement now looks doubtful.

With Lee Westwood happy to wait until 2022 or later to do the job, Harrington is considered the hot favourite to lead Europe's trophy defence at Whistling Straits.

Wisconsin native Steve Stricker is considered the likely US captain in his home state and it would be a surprise if he is not a vice-captain for Tiger Woods in the 2019 Presidents Cup in Australia.

Woods admitted on a scouting mission to Royal Melbourne this week that he hasn't ruled out being a playing captain against Ernie Els' International team from December 9-15 next year.

Louis Oosthuizen thrilled the homes fans in the South African Open with a 62. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Louis Oosthuizen thrilled the homes fans in the South African Open with a 62. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

"I'm part of the team either way, okay," said Woods, who is 16th in the qualifying race. "We'll have our top eight guys, and hopefully I'll be part of the top eight ."

Meanwhile, tummy trouble scuppered Gavin Moynihan in the opening round of the South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg.

The Dubliner (24) was feeling unwell at Randpark Golf Club and posted a four-over 75 on the Firethorn Course, where Michael Hoey also shot 75, and Old Conna's Neil O'Briain shot 76.

"Struggled today," Moynihan said after mixing three front-nine birdies with a double-bogey at the sixth before following further dropped shots at the 10th and 11th with a crippling triple-bogey seven at the 16th. "I'm not feeling good, to be honest. My stomach is not 100pc. It was also very windy, and my iron play was just off today."

Perfect

Louis Oosthuizen made the perfect start in his bid to win his home open for the first time, carding a nine-under 62 on the shorter but narrower Bushwillow lay-out.

The 2010 Open champion made six birdies in a back nine of 30 to lead by one from Zambia's Madalitso Muthiya and last week's Mauritius Open winner, Kurt Kitayama, who continued his fine start to his European Tour career with a 63 on the Firethorn Course.

"Any time, anywhere, nine-under is always going to feel nice," Oosthuizen said. "It was one of those rounds where you don't really look at any scoreboard or your card, you just play."

With Oosthuizen already exempt, Mutyiha, Kitayama and Zander Lombard are the three players in the top ten who are on track to win places in The Open at Royal Portrush next year.

Elsewhere, twins Leona and Lisa Maguire will begin their bids for Ladies European Tour cards at 72-hole Pre-Qualifying for the Lalla Aicha Tour School finals in Morocco today.

South African Open Live, Sky Sports, 10.0am QBE Shootout Live, Sky Sports Golf, 6.30pm

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