Azinger in a quandary over America's Ryder Cup wild cards
Tuesday 12 August 2008
The America captain, Paul Azinger, yesterday welcomed Boo Weekley's qualification for his Ryder Cup team to face Europe in Kentucky next month and the unashamed redneck immediately revealed his intentions by warning Padraig Harrington, the Open and USPGA champion, "you have a target on your back".
Together with Ben Curtis, Weekley staged a late rally on Sunday to make the top eight who have earned their spots at Valhalla automatically and Azinger now has three weeks in which to select four wild cards. "I'm really happy about that as if I had to name them as of now I wouldn't know what do," he said. Azinger already has three rookies and must now decide whether he can risk more. Yesterday he indicated that he probably would.
The problem he faces is the poor form of his prospective candidates. Curtis's tie for second at Oakland Hills hauled him from 20th to seventh, and Weekley's final-round 66 sealed his place. But otherwise there was only mediocrity. Marry that to the commendable European challenge at a major that was always considered not to suit them – three players in the top four, four in the top 10 – and it is easy to see why Azinger is so willing to label his opponents the favourites.
With Sergio Garcia rising up the list to knock out the out-of-form Martin Kaymer, and Justin Rose all but cementing his berth, Nick Faldo will now be hoping that Ian Poulter returns to Europe to try to earn the points he needs to leapfrog Soren Hansen in 10th place.
There are three counting tournaments remaining before Faldo's team is decided on 31 August. Paul Casey has all but thrown himself at his captain's mercy by opting to stay in America; He is now the favourite for a wild card.
Race for a place: How they stand
European Ryder Cup team (as they currently stand in points order; GB unless stated):
P Harrington (Irl), L Westwood, S Garcia (Sp), H Stenson (Swe), R Karlsson (Swe), MA Jimenez (Sp), G McDowell (N Irl), J Rose, O Wilson, S Hansen (Den).
Plus two wild-card picks to be made by the European captain Nick Faldo.
US Ryder Cup team:
1. T Woods*, 2. P Mickelson, 3. S Cink, 4. K Perry, 5. J Furyk, 6. A Kim, 7. J Leonard, 8. B Curtis, 9. B Weekley.
Top eight available players qualify automatically for team. US captain Paul Azinger will also select four wild cards.
* Woods is injured so player in ninth takes his place.
Latest in Sport
Chelsea victory parade: Chelsea mocked on Twitter as 'tens of fans' pack the streets of London
Jack Wilshere's final-day strike wins Match of the Day's Goal of the Season award after Arsenal fans hijack vote
Young Preston fan has play-off hero Jermaine Beckford's shirt stolen from him at Wembley - which then appears for sale on Gumtree
Chelsea victory parade: Fans chuck celery at Sky News presenter ahead of champion's parade through London
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers safe for now as owners target signings - with £20m Christian Benteke top of list
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 Chelsea victory parade: Chelsea mocked on Twitter as 'tens of fans' pack the streets of London
- 3 US warned by Chinese media to stop meddling or 'war will be inevitable'
- 4 Woman, 21, dies after taking contraceptive pill that 'caused fatal blood clot'
- 5 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people