BMW PGA: Justin Rose lays down marker in Ryder Cup wildcard battle

Let’s not beat about the bush. Of the 15 or so players vying for the last of Padraig Harrington’s three Ryder Cup picks, one sticks out like a sore thumb when it comes to the biennial contest.

Justin Rose lines up a during the first round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images.

Justin Rose has faced the Americans five times and played on three winning teams, including the 2014 match at Gleneagles, where he picked up four points out of five for Paul McGinley. Overall, he’s claimed 13 points out of 23 in his career in the biennial event.

That the Englishman has not qualified automatically yet for the 43rd edition at Whistling Straits later this month is a surprise to some, but he could still do so rather than have to rely on a pick from Harrington on Sunday night.

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Admittedly needing a win to avoid that situation, Rose made a majestic start in the BMW PGA Championship as he signed for a bogey-free five-under-par 67 at Wentworth.

Adam Scott smiles after picking up an unexpected birdie at the 15th hole during the first round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Picture: Picture: Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images.

“He's world class, one of the best players of this generation,” observed Adam Scott, who was playing in the same group as the 2013 US Open champion, in delivering his verdict on Rose’s credentials.

“When the pressure's on, just like the Ryder Cup, he's lifted (himself) many times, whether it's Ryder Cup or any other tournament.

“Major champion, world No 1, you've got something in you to be able to do that kind of stuff, so I'm not surprised. It's nice to see.

“I have no idea what Padraig is thinking, but I think he'd be happy seeing these guys with experience play well. It might make it more difficult for him, but that's a good position to be in.”

Making his first appearance in the event since 2006, Scott was also pleased with his own day’s work, signing for eight birdies in a 64 to sit two shots behind the pacesetters, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout.

“I've been feeling like I've been playing well and that's one of the reasons why I came here this week,” said the 2013 Masters champion.

“I didn't have anything to play in the last couple of weeks, so I felt like this was a great opportunity to come and play a really good event and bring back good memories from early days in my career.”

On a day when Aphibarnrat made his score with a burst of five straight birdies from the turn, 2018 winner Francesco Molinari kept himself on the fringes of the Ryder Cup wildcard scenario with a 68, dropping his sole shot at the par-5 18th.

“Never say never but I would be happily surprised,” said the Italian, who became the first player in Ryder Cup history to win five points out of five in Paris in 2019 of whether he could land the victory he probably needs to get himself properly in the reckoning on Sunday night. “Obviously I would love to be there and play some good golf.

Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, who needs a top-50 finish this week to secure one of nine automatic spots up for grabs, finished birdie-eagle to salvage a one-under 71 – one behind the man currently in the last of those berths, Shane Lowry – after being three-over following just six holes.

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