It’s four down, eight to go in Europe’s Ryder Cup team.
The race for a spot in Luke Donald’s 12-man lineup for next month’s Ryder Cup in Italy is in the home stretch, with the final two automatic places being determined at the European Masters starting Thursday in the picturesque, mountain-top surroundings of Crans-sur-Sierre.
Then comes the six captain’s picks, which will be announced by Donald on Monday.
Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton are already safely in the team after a year-long qualification process. Who will join them for the matches against the United States at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club outside Rome from Sept. 29-Oct. 1?
Here’s a look at the scenarios at play in Switzerland this week:
EUROPEAN POINTS LIST
Six players are fighting for the third and final place up for grabs on the European Points List behind McIlroy and Rahm, and Robert MacIntyre is the driving seat.
The Scottish left-hander strengthened his position in third place on the list by finishing tied for fourth at the Czech Masters on Sunday. A win in Switzerland guarantees him a debut appearance at the Ryder Cup but five players have a chance to overhaul MacIntyre, who would then be relying on a captain’s pick.
Yannik Paul of Germany, Adrian Meronk of Poland, Victor Perez of France, Rasmus Hojgaard of Denmark and Adrian Otaegui of Spain are the players still in with a chance.
Paul is MacIntyre’s closest challenger and will definitely steal third spot on the list with a win. He needs at least a tie for third to stand a chance.
Meronk and Perez need at least a second-place finish, while Hojgaard — the 2021 champion at Crans-sur-Sierre — and Otaegui require a win to be in contention.
WORLD POINTS LIST
It’s a straight shootout between Tommy Fleetwood and 2022 U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick for the third and final place on the World Points List behind Hovland and Hatton.
Neither of the Englishmen will be having sleepless nights this week, however, with whoever missing out on automatic qualification sure to get one of the captain’s picks.
Fleetwood occupies third place on the list but isn’t playing in Switzerland. Fitzpatrick is, after playing the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour last week, and would need to finish better than seventh alone to overtake Fleetwood.
Fitzpatrick won the event in 2017 and ’18.
The big favorites for the six captain’s picks are either of Fleetwood or Fitzpatrick, Shane Lowry, Justin Rose and Sepp Straka.
The signs are pointing toward Swedish rookie Ludvig Aberg, who only turned pro in June, getting the call from Donald, too.
In this scenario, one more pick would be up for grabs and Meronk might be favored if he doesn’t get an automatic spot. The Polish player won the Italian Open at Marco Simone in May and is a two-time winner on the European tour this season.
The Europeans will try to avenge a record loss to the United States at Whistling Straits in 2021. The 19-9 thrashing was the biggest margin of victory since continental Europe became part of the Ryder Cup in 1979.
AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf