Lukey’s lads: Power moves into automatic places as experienced Europeans come into form

Ronan MacNamara
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Seamus Power (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)

The 2022 DP World Tour season concludes this week with many players teeing up for the last time in 2022 on both sides of the Atlantic, it’s a good time to take stock of where Luke Donald’s European hopefuls stand after a staggered fortnight where players have played in drips and drabs.

Seamus Power ascended to the top of the World Points List a fortnight ago following his third-place finish in Mayakoba, joining fellow Irishmen Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry in the top six automatic picks in the European Ryder Cup qualification standings. 

Lowry and McIlroy are behind Jon Rahm in the European Points List and that list won’t be for changing too much over the course of the next ten months or so with Power more than likely going to have to wrestle his way onto Luke Donald’s team via the World Points List or rely on a wildcard selection. 

Power’s year looked to be fizzling out after a missed cut at the Open Championship with some fearing he had reached his peak and an untimely plateau was about to emerge in his career. 

However, a win and a third-place finish in two weeks has moved the Waterford native inside the top-30 in the Official World Golf Rankings and to the summit of the FedEx Cup standings. 

Should Power remain inside the top-30 in the world then he will prove very difficult to ignore for Donald should he not claim one of the three World Points List places on offer.  

A debut in the Hero Cup might also enhance his chances if he can impress and make himself known to the Englishman. 

Tucked in behind Power in the world points list are Thomas Detry and Robert MacIntyre although concerns about Detry under the cosh did not ease after his Sunday disaster in South Africa last week. 

Scotland’s MacIntyre has continued his form since winning the Italian Open at the Ryder Cup venue Marco Simone GC and he will be looking to make a statement in Dubai this week. 

THE BIG MOVER 

Tommy Fleetwood has been trending in the right direction for quite a while.

The Englishman hasn’t missed a cut since the US Open and posted top-4 finishes at the Scottish Open, Open Championship and the CJ Cup before ending a three-year winless run with victory at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.

Fleetwood climbed a whopping 75 places on the European Points List. His successful defence of the Nedbank – with 2019 the last time it was played – has seen him rise to fifth on the European Points List and eighth on the World Points List.

One of the favourites to qualify automatically on either list, the Englishman looks like he is getting back to his best.

THE HOPEFULS  

Seamus Power 

Took advantage of the week where there was no DP World Tour action after the Portugal Masters with an impressive third place finish in Mayakoba in a strong field. His win in Bermuda while holding the favourites tag was also an impressive scalp and he arrives in Georgia this week for the RSM Classic as one of the favourites and the second highest ranked player in the field. 

Could rise as high as 23rd in the world with a win at the RSM where there are more ranking points available than in Dubai despite a considerably inferior field.

Tyrrell Hatton  

The Englishman has made two Ryder Cup appearances winning two of his six matches in Blue.  

We are coming into prime Hatton time with the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai 

Should he not qualify automatically he will most likely earn a wildcard pick barring a dramatic drop off in form.   

Hatton hasn’t missed a cut since the Irish Open.  

Thomas Detry  

Close but no cigar for Detry again last week despite his consistent form.

The Belgian has been in impressive form on the PGA Tour in the fall season with finishes of T12, T9 and 2nd behind Power in Bermuda. He also finished 15th in Mayakoba. 

The talent of Detry who now boasts JP Fitzgerald as his caddy has never been up for debate, but you do feel he will need to pick up a win to seriously convince Luke Donald he has what it takes in the pressure situations.  

A final round of 77 at the Nedbank won’t have helped his cause as he fell from the top of the leaderboard to 13th. 

Although it is early in the qualifying process, Detry did move up one place to fifth in the World Points List into the second automatic position. 

Robert MacIntyre  

A player who probably should have made the 2021 team but let PGA Tour card concerns cloud his Ryder Cup bid.  

Since then the affable Scotsman had become a shadow of his former self, slipping well below the top-100 in the world.  

However, a win at the Italian Open where he held off Rory McIlrory and Matt Fitzpatrick has re-energised him and he will be a serious contender for a place in Rome next year.  

Course experience could go in his favour too having won at Marco Simone GC.  

The Scot has some good course form ahead of the DP World Tour’s desert swing either side of the new year. He was in the lead heading into Sunday of the DP World Tour Championship and he arrives in Dubai this week as a strong favourite to make Luke Donald’s side. 

Victory in Italy had been on the cards for a while and he’s held his form well, lingering around the lead in his next three events. It’s coming towards the end of a busy stretch and he understandably went through the motions following a slow start at Sun City. 

MacIntyre is already in the top-3 positions on the world points list in sixth. 

Alex Noren  

Moving from an outsider to a serious contender. 

The Swede is somebody moving under the radar and once again underlined his credentials, coming fourth at the Houston Open. 

Noren is steadily climbing back up the world rankings, now at 45th as he bids to lock in his place in the major championships next year. 

It was a ball striking clinic from Noren last week, hitting 14 of 18 greens on his way to a final round of 68. 

This moves Noren up eight places on the World Points List and into seventh with 30.91 points as he looks to represent Team Europe for a second time after a successful debut in 2018 at Le Golf National, Paris, France 

THE OUTSIDERS  

Jordan Smith  

Smith moved to within touching distance of the automatic qualifying places with his impressive wire-to-wire win at the Portugal Masters.  

Birdies win holes in Ryder Cups so Luke Donald will be keeping a close eye on Smith who can score heavily.  

A PGA Tour card beckons for the Englishman which will mean a greater opportunity to earn world ranking points and put himself in the bigger tournaments.  

Sepp Straka  

27th in the world.  

A big win at the Honda Classic last year, the big Austrian doesn’t back off.  

A very streaky player. His inconsistency might go against him or it might go for him depending on his form by next August.  

After a run of six missed cuts in a row during the summer, Straka has been beaten in two playoffs by Will Zalatoris and Mackenzie Hughes while he was 6th at the Tour Championship.   

His major championship performances have been poor to date but if he maintains his position in the world rankings he will give himself a huge chance of a Ryder Cup debut. 

The Hojgaard twins  

Big things are expected of Rasmus and Nicolai who are both on course to end the 2022 DP World Tour season on a high.  

Rasmus has not finished worse than T-30 since the BMW PGA Championship including two top-5 finishes while Nicolai won the Ras Al Khaimah Championship in February.  

Both players are ranked outside the top-100 in the world but both are much better than their world ranking suggests with five DP World Tour wins between them at the age of 21.  

Rasmus is eighth on the European points list and would seem the most likely of the twins to earn a place next year.  

Francesco Molinari  

Cicco has shown signs of life lately after a career collapse since finding Rae’s Creek at the 2019 Masters.  

The 2018 Open champion has missed just two cuts since May and in a team that is shaping up to be vastly inexperienced a good run of form next summer could see Molinari play a Ryder Cup on home soil.  

Thomas Pieters  

37th in the world. Was a shining light at the 2016 Ryder Cup. Has all the talent in the world but mentally lacks that consistency.  

The tall big hitting Belgian has become a mainstay in the top-50 this season and with a PGA Tour card on the horizon it looks like Pieters might be about to return to the top table.  

Although LIV links and a withdrawal from the DP World Tour Championship is a concern. 

DON’T RULE OUTS  

Eddie Pepperell  

Guido Migliozzi: Has struggled this year either side of a win at the Open de France and all eyes will be on him and Francesco Molinari as the home hopes for a place on Luke Donald’s team. 

His US Open performances suggest he loves the big occasion and he certainly has the passion for it. 

Adrian Meronk  

Justin Rose: Europe’s forgotten man, was in contention after three rounds of the Houston Open but faded on the final day after being away from the spotlight for a long time. A closing birdie edged him into the top-10.

Left out of Pádraig Harrington’s side in Whistling Straits, Rosey would be a welcome addition to Donald’s charges and it wouldn’t surprise me if they had already had conversations about it. 

In the likely absence of experienced campaigners, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, an in form Rose would provide much needed experience to what will be an inexperienced European side. If he can put aside his other interests off the course there’s no reason why he can’t make this team. 

Danny Willett  

Ewen Ferguson: A two-time winner on the DP World Tour this year and in the hunt for a PGA Tour card, MacIntyre isn’t the only talented Scotsman in the mix. Although one would expect he might have to do something on a bigger stage to catch the eye of Luke Donald. 

Thorbjorn Olesen  

Matt Wallace 

 

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