Wilson ready to handle the Ryder nerves
On the day it was revealed that Nick Faldo plans to use DJ Spoony and the drummer from Iron Maiden to inspire his team at Kentucky next month, two young Englishmen declared their eagerness to be a part of the party.
For Justin Rose and Oliver Wilson these next four days of the Johnnie Walker Championship could just be some of the most nerve-wracking of their short careers.
It seems unthinkable, however, that Rose will not still be in the top 10 of the Ryder Cup standings come Sunday evening. To drop out, the player ranked 14th in the world would need to miss the cut and three of the following to happen – Nick Dougherty to win, Ross Fisher to be in the top two, Martin Kaymer in the top five, Oliver Wilson in the top seven and Soren Hansen in the top 28. When he says "it is a dream to play in the Ryder Cup", Rose is dreaming from a position of some comfort.
If only Wilson could boast the same. The 27-year-old from Mansfield holds a mere £14,000 advantage over the German Martin Kaymer and will feel the breath down his neck all week. The player who would become the first to appear in a Ryder Cup without ever having won a fully-fledged tournament is determined to ignore it. "There's so many connotations and so many things that could happen that, if you got caught up thinking about it, the golf would become almost a sideshow," Wilson said. "Saying that, it is exciting."
Neither will they assist Dougherty, or Fisher the two other Brits with chances of making their Ryder Cup debuts. What may seem harsh is that should either of them only just fail there is no likelihood of a wild card. It now appears to be a three-man race – Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Ian Poulter – for the two captain's picks, although the word here remains to be that Poulter must be extremely confident of getting the nod.
The fact that Poulter decided to withdraw from this event, when still holding a live chance of qualifying, has inevitably inspired the tongues to wag and although Darren Clarke was not about to get drawn into the rumour-mongering he was prepared to state his disappointment at Poulter's actions, if only because it could have made Faldo's selection far less arduous. "Most of us would have liked to see him trying to qualify," said the resurgent Clarke.
As it is, Faldo may be focusing on the younger element featuring in Valhalla; certainly if his plans for the team-room "entertainment" is anything to go by. "We're going with drum kits," he told the magazine, Golf World, which was published yesterday. "I'm friends with Nicko McBrain, the drummer from Iron Maiden – he's a legend. I wanted to have stuff that helps the guys go crash, bang, wallop for half an hour. DJ Spoony is doing the official music. He's in charge of giving us some cool, inspirational stuff."
Perhaps it might be better if Monty's not there, after all.
Picking Europe's Ryder Cup team
The top five Europeans in the world rankings points list qualify automatically. The top five players on the European Tour list make up the top 10.
The Johnnie Walker championship this weekend is the last event that counts toward the Ryder Cup points totals.
The squad below is correct according to the lists on 25 August:
1. Padraig Harrington (Irl)
2. Sergio Garcia (Sp)
3. Lee Westwood (Eng)
4. Henrik Stenson (Swe)
5. Robert Karlsson (Swe)
6. Miguel Angel Jimenez (Sp)
7. Graeme McDowell (N. Irl)
8. Justin Rose (Eng)
9. Soren Hansen (Den)
10. Oliver Wilson (Eng)
Possible qualifiers: Martin Kaymer, Ross Fisher, Nick Dougherty (next on European points list).
The captain, Nick Faldo, then selects two more players as wild cards. His picks will be announced on Sunday.
Possible wild-card players: C Montgomerie, P McGinley, D Clarke, I Poulter and P Casey (of these five, the only one not playing at Gleneagles this weekend is Poulter).