AUCHTERARDER, Scotland – Edoardo Molinari painted European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie into a tight corner after the third round of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
His message to Montgomerie was as forceful as it was simple: Pick me if I win or there is something seriously wrong with the European Tour’s Ryder Cup selection system.
“I would be very upset if I win and he doesn’t pick me,” Molinari said. “Even if I don’t win, I’m probably one of the best candidates, so I think if you win the last event and don’t get picked, there’s something seriously wrong.”
Montgomerie couldn’t ignore the name Molinari even if he wanted to. Edoardo and brother Francesco sit atop the leaderboard with a round to go. Francesco leads at 10-under par. Edoardo is a stroke back at 9 under.
They will play the final round together.
Francesco is already on Monty’s team. He is seventh in the European team rankings.
Edoardo is one of five men looking for one of Montgomerie’s three wild card picks. He is battling for selection with Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington and Justin Rose. However, at least Molinari turned up to play at Gleneagles. The others chose to play in The Barclays, the first tournament in the FedEx Cup series.
The former U.S. Amateur champion is bidding for his second win on Scottish soil this season. Edoardo won the Scottish Open in July, a win that put him into the Ryder Cup frame. Another Scottish victory and it would be hard for Montgomerie to ignore him.
Francesco’s position in the European team gives Montgomerie a compelling argument for making Edoardo one of his picks. The pair won the World Cup together last year and would make a formidable duo at Celtic Manor.
Edoardo is on record as saying they wouldn’t lose a point if they make the team.
“We know each other very well,” Edoardo said. “If we play the Ryder Cup together, we absolutely know what to expect from the other in every moment of the matches.”
Francesco said the two ham and egg well together because they are strong in different facets of the game.
“He’s a better putter than me and I’m great with the irons,” Francesco said. “When he’s hitting the ball good off the tee and I’m hitting the irons onto the green, we have a lot of chances. We can make a lot of birdies.”
The pairing is certainly at the forefront of Monty’s mind.
“It’s an obvious partnership and it’s a criteria that I’ve got to be putting forward here,” Montgomerie said. “I feel now that I can look at not just the strength of individual players but who is playing with who, even at this stage.”
Edoardo is the emotional one and Francesco, the younger by a year, the better balanced of the two. No surprise then, that the younger Molinari isn’t as strident about the Ryder Cup system if his elder brother doesn’t get picked.
“Winning would be very good and will put Monty under pressure, but it just depends on what Monty thinks of the team and what he needs to do to make the team stronger,” Francesco said.
“He’s one of the strongest candidates because he’s had a great season. He’s playing really well again this week under a lot of pressure. But the other guys are not just ordinary European Tour players.”
Edoardo has had an outstanding season, in what is his rookie year. Last year he was playing on the European Challenge Tour, and so didn’t begin his Ryder Cup challenge until nearly three months into the race.
Besides one victory, he has four other top fives. He made the cut in three of the four majors. Now he faces down his brother to win the last tournament in the Ryder Cup race.
“Even if I finish first or second, it doesn’t make a difference,” Edoardo said. “I’ve had five top fives this year already. I don’t think some of the other candidates have so many top fives.
“I expect if I finish top three tomorrow, I would say he’s going to pick me. Those are my thoughts.”
If Edoardo Molinari does win tomorrow and doesn’t make the trip to Celtic Manor, Wales for the Ryder Cup, it may be the biggest injustice in Ryder Cup history since Robert Karlsson was overlooked for a wild card pick in favour of Andrew Coltart in 1999.