Graeme McDowell may have played his way out of the picture, but Luke Donald and Thomas Pieters remain rivals to Russell Knox in the battle to join Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood among Darren Clarke’s three wild-card picks for the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine next month.
McDowell, who secured the winning point for Colin Montgomerie in the 2010 match at Celtic Manor, appeared to accept his chances of being selected by the current European captain on Tuesday at Wentworth had gone down the drain following an early exit in the Barclays Championship in New York on Friday.
“I’m think I’m done unfortunately,” wrote the former US Open champion on Twitter. He beat Jordan Spieth in the top singles match two years at Gleneagles, where he was also used expertly by Paul McGinley to get the best out of one of his rookies, Victor Dubuisson. “Would have loved to be there (but) seriously outside chance. Playing well but haven’t showed enough.”
Donald, pipped by Stephen Gallacher for one of McGinley’s picks, stayed in the hunt by reaching the halfway stage in the opening FedEx Cup Play-Off event sitting two shots ahead of Knox, but at least the Scot now looks certain to finish the qualifying race in 10th position, which, coupled with having recorded two big wins in the last 10 months, surely has to make him difficult to overlook.
Soren Kjeldsen, who needed to win the Made in Denmark to jump above Knox, heads into the final round at Himmerland Resort in Farso seven shots off the lead, held by Welshman Bradley Dredge, though Belgian Pieters is lurking ominously there in joint-second and could yet throw a massive spanner in the works.
Kaymer is expected to be picked by Clarke along with Westwood to add experience to the nine automatic qualifiers, including five rookies. He produced a best-of-the-day 66 in the third round to move within four of the lead, leaving Knox, Donald and Pieters fighting it out today in different events for that last pick.