Casey closes in on his coronation day

Volvo Masters: England's Ryder Cup hero looks to Order of Merit and beyond after a dream campaign

As Padraig Harrington continues to reflect on a missed cut in Mallorca, where he plainly did not play quite as he ought to, his first Order of Merit title must seem as far way as ever. History says that the Volvo Masters - the season's final event - is no place to be chasing down £150,000 leads. And the Irishman's own history at Valderrama positively screams it.

"I am now very much a longshot," said Harrington yesterday, typically honest, typically downbeat. "It's never been the happiest of hunting grounds for me. My best performance there was last year when I finished seventh, and I can't deny that a good result for me next week would be top 10. And that wouldn't be good enough."

Indeed it wouldn't. If Harrington's doomed mission to the Balearic island did one thing for a race the European Tour was praying would be nailbiting, it was to make the maths blessedly simple. To be sure, the Dubliner must take the near- £500,000 first prize; Paul Casey's placing would be inconsequential then. Should Harrington finish second or third it would be in the young Englishman's assured hands. Casey's to win, Casey's to lose.

Admittedly, there are a few variables to be mindful of here. Not least the big, lurking one of Robert Karlsson. The Swede could leapfrog Harrington into second and into the role of main challenger should he prevail in today's final round of the Mallorca Classic. Also, victory at Valderrama for David Howell could see England's quiet man sneak in. In truth, though, most believe that it is that nation's coming man who will be crowned. And nobody believes it more fervently than Colin Montgomerie.

There is not another golfer alive - or dead - who knows more about winning Orders of Merit in southern Spain than Montgomerie. The rumour that the Andalucian Tourist Board have been considering renaming the area "the Costa del Col" has been gaining credence by the year. To Montgomerie, the battle to be next up on his throne is rather straightforward.

"It's over," he said after Harrington's humbling. "If I was a gambling man, I'd be sticking houses on Casey. Out of my eight Order of Merits, seven came when I've been leading going into Valderrama. There was only one where I was behind Sam Torrance, and then I managed to pull it right out of the bag at the end. It's difficult to come from behind in golf, more so at Valderrama, where the fairways are tight and it's almost impossible to attack without coming a cropper. Yes, Casey will be a very worthy successor."

And, Montgomerie believes, a long-lasting one. The Scot is renowned for uttering an incon-trovertible truth one minute, and a wholly contradictory thought the next, and it was only three months ago that Montgomerie said that of all the Europeans - himself notwithstanding, of course - Harrington was the most likely to end the seven-year major drought. But his switch to Casey seems genuine, as does his reason for it.

"Paul has the huge asset over most Europeans in that he hits the ball an awful long way," said Montgomerie. "There's no course getting shorter and the greatest asset these days is length. So Paul is the most likely to succeed in major golf. I am not saying Luke [Donald] won't, because he is a great golfer, and so are David Howell, Sergio [Garcia] and Padraig. But, in my opinion, Casey has the most potential."

Montgomerie is not alone in believing this. The world must have worked out by now that Ian Woosnam is not one for the grand statement - the Ryder Cup captain's delicious "the greatest week in history" apart - but he is not shy in announcing his admiration of the odds-on favourite from Cheltenham. "I think a number of the team will go on to win majors and Paul is at the forefront," he said. "He's had an unbelievable year, when he has picked up the form that left him last year. He's been amazingly consistent and he showed his quality when winning the HSBC World Match Play and then at the Ryder Cup. He's got it all and deserves this Order of Merit."

However, Woosnam palpably does not agree with those curmudgeons who say, and will undoubtedly say again, that the European money list is largely irrelevant, as they point once more to the fact that the non-qualified Tiger Woods's collective earnings of £3.5m in counting events are more than those of Casey and Harrington combined.

"Well it won't be irrelevant to Paul," said the Welshman. "You know, I was about the same age as he is [29] when I won my first Order of Merit and what it gave me was tremendous belief. It was a real stepping stone. Its effect on him, or on Padraig, David, Robert or whoever wins it, should not be underestimated."

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
News
i100
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments