The final automatic spot in Europe’s team for next month’s Ryder Cup will literally be Made in Denmark – and it’s a home hope in that event this week who is in the driving seat.
The last qualifying event, which is being held at European captain Thomas Bjorn’s home club of Silkeborg Ry, has come down to a three-way battle for that berth between Thorbjorn Olesen, Matt Fitzpatrick and Eddie Pepperell.
Helped by a string of solid summer performances, Olesen is on course to join Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Tyrrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm and Alex Noren in the side that will be bidding to wrest back the trophy at Le Golf National. The Dane can make certain of a Ryder Cup debut under compatriot Bjorn with a top-six finish this weekend, with English duo Eddie Pepperell and Matt Fitzpatrick needing to win and hope Olesen finishes down the leaderboard.
“It always comes down to the last qualifying event that somebody can do something, so as a captain you want to see them go out and take control of the situation,” said Bjorn. “Eddie and Fitz have a lot to do in the way they need to win the golf tournament, so it’s a big ask, but they are very capable of doing that. You’ve just got to sit on the sidelines and have a good look at it. It’s going to be interesting.”
The three contenders, as well as others in the frame for four wildcards set to be announced by Bjorn next Wednesday, are all being scrutinised closely. Bjorn will play the first two rounds alongside Pepperell and Martin Kaymer while two of his assistants, Lee Westwood and Robert Karlsson, are in groups with Olesen, pictured, Fitzpatrick, Thomas Pieters and Matt Wallace.
“Obviously it’s nice that they haven’t overtaken me,” admitted Olesen of his position, “but last week was more like preparing me for this week, trying to get ready and trying to make a good result this week, that’s all I’ve been thinking about.”
For the majority of the Scots in the field, this week is more about trying to secure their cards for next season, with David Drysdale (127th), Richie Ramsay (132nd), Marc Warren (141st) and Bradley Neil (187th) all currently outside the all-important top 110 in the Race to Dubai.
Russell Knox, meanwhile, probably needs to win the Dell Technologies event in Boston on the PGA Tour to re-ignite his hopes of a pick next week.