European stalwarts Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley will be competing later this month at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
As much as they each would like to win, they all have another job to do: Scout for Capt. Monty.
The top four players of the World Ryder Cup points list and the leading five players of the European points list, not otherwise qualified, are automatic picks. Colin Montgomerie then chooses an additional three players on Aug. 29, following the conclusion of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles. In contrast, U.S. captain Corey Pavin will announce his four wildcard picks Sept. 7.
WORLD RYDER CUP POINTS LIST
1 Lee WESTWOOD 422.01
2 Rory MCILROY 281.95
3 Graeme MCDOWELL 249.35
4 Luke DONALD 231.16
5 Edoardo MOLINARI 214.46
6 Ian POULTER 211.24
7 Padraig HARRINGTON 204.97
8 Justin ROSE 195.74
9 Martin KAYMER 185.42
10 Francesco MOLINARI 168.56
11 Miguel Angel JIMENEZ 157.73
12 Paul CASEY 153.88
13 Ross FISHER 149.90
14 Rhys DAVIES 137.20
15 Alvaro QUIROS 135.60
-Last updated: Aug. 8
European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie selected the three men as his vice captains, and they’ll be scrutinizing the play of Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, Peter Hanson, Simon Dyson, Rhys Davies and Gregory Havret – all of whom are vying for spots on the team. The Johnnie Walker, scheduled for Aug. 26-29, is the last chance for players to accrue points and earn their way on to the squad or make a strong impression to warrant a captain’s pick.
“It is going to be a very interesting week, and the players on the periphery of the team are going to be under a huge amount of pressure to perform at Gleneagles to impress Captain Montgomerie,” Bjorn said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the three of us there or thereabouts on the Sunday leaderboard as the pressure is off us this year as we’ve already got our place on the team.”
Clarke, currently 20th on the Ryder Cup European Rankings said, “I’ve had two second-place finishes this season, and with my recent return to form, I really am enjoying myself out on the golf course and would love to win again.”
McGinley added, “The Johnnie Walker Championship marks the start of our duties as Ryder Cup vice captains as Monty has said he wants to talk everything through with us.”
Montgomerie himself is at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits conducting some Ryder Cup reconnaissance and competing. He conceded this week that it’s difficult juggling captain’s duties and tournament play.
“(U.S. captain Corey Pavin) has been playing an awful lot better than I have recently, but I think it does affect us in preparation for our own game in trying to see everybody at the same time,” Montgomerie said.
Virtually all of Montgomerie’s prospective team members – except the injured Lee Westwood – are competing in the season’s final major.
“It is quite tiring to go around and having to visit with everybody,” Montgomerie said. “So it does take away from one’s own practice and one’s own preparation for a major championship, which, I’m sure, Corey and I are still capable of competing in.”