No fewer than 15 players could still qualify for Harrington’s European Team

Bernie McGuire
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No fewer than 15 players could still qualify for Harrington’s European Team

Padraig Harrington with Harry Holland and Tom Holland during the Pro-Am event prior to The BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club on September 08, 2021 in Virginia Water, England. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Remarkably, it’s now come to light there are no fewer than 15 players who could still qualify for the European Ryder Cup team mathematically, though some equations are more likely to come true than others.

Among those who can make Padraig Harrington’s side is Scotland’s Calum Hill, recent breakthrough winner on the European Tour. Hill would find his way onto the flight to Wisconsin should he capture this week’s BMW PGA Championship.

As well, fellow Scot Robert MacInytre can bump Shane Lowry out of his ninth automatic spot under threat by finishing top-two at Wentworth while Austrian Bernd Wiseberger could unseat both Lowry and Rory McIlroy by finishing top-50, though a stream of other variables would need to work in Wiesberger’s favour here, so he’ll be eyeing a much better finish.

McIlroy, currently qualifying fourth among the top-four on the ‘European’ points list, would still qualify off the ‘World’ points list. And speaking of Austrian’s, as Matthias Schwab, currently 17th on the ‘European’ table would qualify should he win the BMW PGA.

Of course, Lowry could go ahead and win the BMW PGA championship and that would silence any of the above-mentioned scenarios. However, if Lowry did go ahead and win at Tour HQ, there are repercussions further up the eight automatically qualified players and Lowry would bump McIlroy out of the fourth and last qualifying spot on the ‘European’ points table, seeing McIlroy, as mentioned above, qualify off the ‘World’ points table.

Currently, rookie Viktor Hovland will be top qualifier off the ‘World’ table.

Harrington will be aware of the various qualifying scenarios but it would seem certain in the Irishman’s mind that two of his three ‘wildcard’ picks will be Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia.

Should Lowry be knocked out of the nine automatic qualifiers, the Open Champion from two years ago will undoubtedly receive the third ‘wildcard’ pick. Lowry may be one of Harrington’s closest friends but his overall form this year, despite not winning, is worthy of a ‘wildcard’ pick.

Without being too unfair but the likes of MacIntyre, Wiesberger and Frenchman Victor Perez will not be given a ‘wildcard’ pick with this year’s Ryder Cup being held on U.S. soil. And in saying that about MacIntyre, Harrington was at his very diplomatic best, crossing every ‘t’ and dotting every ‘i’, when asked of MacIntyre and Hill’s chances in joining him on the journey to Whistling Straits.

“It’s a big week,” said Harrington. “If you come down here and deliver under that pressure, that’s exactly what you want in the Ryder Cup.

“Robert has been great all year. He has really been up there. He is a tenacious player and that is the kind of player you would like in a Ryder Cup team so there is a lot going for Robert for sure if he gets in the team or he gets a pick.

“The problem for Calum (Hill) is he knows that he is in this week if he wins this week so he is teeing up under pressure, the same as he would be if he was leading a tournament on the Sunday. If he can deliver under that pressure, he is more than welcome in my team.”

MacIntyre is teeing-up after the disappointment of failing to secure his full 2021/22 PGA Tour card by missing the cut in the opening two of three Korn Ferry ‘Final Series’ events in both Idaho and Ohio.

The Oban lefty has won once in his career, and that was out in Cyprus last year and while he had a 2022 qualifying finish at this year’s Masters, MacIntyre has been quiet for a few months but rightfully admitting ahead of this week’s event: “I have a chance. A small chance.

“It’s one in 156 who are playing this week, but it’s a chance and that is all you can ask for. That’s what you are here for. To try and win. It’s what you turn up every week for. If I manage to pull it off, good things will then happen.

“I’d have to say it would be more pressurised if you were needing a top-20 finish or something like that as opposed to just finishing first. I’ve only got one option. I wouldn’t say it is at the forefront of my mind, it’d be a consequence of good play.

“I’ve never been to a Ryder Cup before. I love watching it and, of course, I would be delighted to play in it. If it’s not this year, the next one, certainly.”

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