The Ryder Cup kicks off later this month at Whistling Straits and Europe’s men will be hoping to replicate the women, who tasted victory in the Solheim Cup this weekend. However, some of the biggest names in the sport are still battling for their automatic spot in the Europe side.
Unlike a usual season, this summer has been pretty dull when it comes to changing places in the top nine spots. In fact, consistency has meant that eight of those nine spots have remained in the same hands and only Victor Perez has dropped out. But that could all change as we enter the final week of the BMW PGA Championship where we could see a dramatic late finish.
Okay, so the seven standout stars of 2021, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland, Paul Casey, Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick are all secure in their qualification spots but as we get further down the order the intrigue, and confusion, begins. McIlroy’s absence this week only adds to the drama and opens the door for several outsiders to secure a spot on the plane.
Bernd Wiesberger will overtake McIlroy and go into fourth on the European points list with a top 50 finish, which he should secure given the Austrian’s quality. In a system that you could do with a maths degree to truly understand, McIlroy would then transfer over to be one of the five qualifiers from the world points list.
So the Irishman is guaranteed his spot no matter what happens, but if he does, as expected, qualify from the world points list, then Irishman Shane Lowry would miss out. But there is also a whole host of challengers ready to capitalise on any slip up.
Shock British Masters winner Richard Bland has already defied the odds once this year and could write another chapter of his fairytale this week, while former PGA champion Danny Willett has a Ryder Cup spot in his sights.
Other names such as Rasmus Hojgaard, Guido Migliozzi and the man who lost his spot earlier in the summer, Perez, could all force their way back in, although the Frenchman needs a top three finish. Meanwhile both Bob MacItyre and Thomas Detry will secure their spot with a top-two finish, but don’t write off Lowry, who will also be fighting for his life.
Of course, Padraig Harrington will be watching on keenly as he has three wildcards to name on Sunday night but he must also balance some big names with current form. Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter have been there and done it several times before, as have Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari - but you’d think one or more of these would have to put in a stunning display at Wentworth to secure a spot.
Choosing two or three of these big names would be playing it safe for Harrington but he may choose to shake things up on what is expected to be a testing course in Wisconsin. One thing is for sure, this week is going to be absolutely crucial in deciding those final few places on Europe’s Ryder Cup team. Meanwhile, USA captain Steve Stricker has selected the team that will take on Europe on home soil...
USA Ryder Cup team: Daniel Berger, Scottie Scheffler, Harris English, Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth and Tony Finau.