Irish quartet join Ryder Cup hopefuls at Cazoo Classic

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Irish quartet join Ryder Cup hopefuls at Cazoo Classic

Paul Dunne (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Niall Kearney, Jonathan Caldwell, Cormac Sharvin and Paul Dunne are all chasing big weeks as Bernd Wiesberger and Victor Perez tee up in this week’s Cazoo Classic at London Golf Club, both harbouring hopes of staking a late claim to secure a place on Pádraig Harrington’s European Ryder Cup team.

The goals might not be so lofty for Ireland’s traveling quartet but Royal Dublin’s Kearney knows a big week could secure his European Tour card given he’s on the cusp of the top-110 on the Race to Dubai, currently in 121st place. Kearney signed off with a Sunday 66 at last week’s Hero Open to grab a top-10 finish and is out at 9.10am this morning [Thursday] looking to continue that momentum.

Clandeboye professional Caldwell (1.10pm) already has a win to his name this year but he would’ve been looking for more after an opening 64 last week at Fairmont St. Andrews. That didn’t quite materialise for the 37-year old who posted a final round 73 in his first four-round assignment since breaking through with his maiden win in Sweden, but there was enough shown in that top-30 finish to suggest his best form is close to returning.

The goalposts move elsewhere in relation to Sharvin and Dunne, the former Walker Cup teammates both going through their own struggles of late – though Sharvin certainly less so. The Ardglass man looked to be playing himself into form at just the right time, making bank with rock-solid finishes at the Irish and Scottish Opens, however since then he’s recorded three missed cuts with his Race to Dubai ranking slipping to 142nd, something he’ll be eager to improve.

For Dunne, albeit completely hampered by a draw bias last week where he followed an opening 79 in brutal conditions with a second day 68, his missed cut at the Hero Open marked missed cut number 30 since 2019.

After winning the British Masters in 2017 and seemingly cementing his place on the Tour in 2018, a cocktail of injuries, form and lost confidence has seen his ranking plummet to 1638 in the world – something that would’ve seemed inconceivable a couple of years ago for the Greystones swinger who surely has too much talent to remain at such a lowly ranking for long.

As for Wiesberger and Perez, they are looking upward, well and truly in the mix as the race for Ryder Cup qualification concludes at the end of next month’s BMW PGA Championship, before Team Europe journeys to Whistling Straits in Wisconsin two weeks later in an attempt to retain the famous trophy they lifted in Paris three years ago.

Austrian Wiesberger currently lies in seventh position on the European Points List, helped by an eighth European Tour victory earlier this year at Made in HimmerLand presented by FREJA, while Frenchman Perez sits just outside the cut-off mark on the World Points List behind Irishman Shane Lowry.

“Well there’s really only one target for me over the next four events I’m playing, four of the next five,” said Wiesberger. “After that fourth week there is a big cut-off so that’s the big target and just try and enjoy these four weeks and free up for them, give everything in those events and try get the best outcome possible. We’ll see if we reach that goal.”

Wiesberger has enjoyed a three-week break since making the cut at The Open and returns to Kent feeling fresh and ready for the challenge. Perez, meanwhile, played last week’s WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis and is now targeting a return to the kind of form which earned him a fourth place finish in March’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

“It’s a big puzzle and it’s just a matter of figuring it out, the right balance of it all,” said Perez. “Sometimes it works and you don’t know why and you keep riding that wave. Then something gets a little off and it’s just a matter of putting the pieces together where you’re comfortable enough to just play. It’s always so easy when it works and equally it can be very difficult.

“It can happen so quickly, you get off to a great week. You get a win and then all of a sudden you’re straight back into the conversation so with the double points and the way it’s turning out to be, it’s going to come all the way down to the final week at Wentworth – being a Rolex Series event with double points. I think at the end of the day it’s just all about playing well, giving yourself chances and hitting good shots.”

Andy Sullivan is a man who has already experienced the Ryder Cup, having played in 2016, and the Englishman’s most recent European Tour win came almost exactly a year ago on home soil, so he will be hoping to feed off the memories of his 2020 English Championship triumph this week.

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