Dougherty faces hard charge for Cup place
Sunday 17 August 2008
Nick Dougherty slipped out of the lead at the Scandinavian Masters in Stockholm after the Swede Peter Hanson, co-leader with the Briton overnight, shot 68 to head the field on 10 under par.
Dougherty, who hopes to claim a place in the European Ryder Cup team after leading the standings last October, shot 70 to sit alongside Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen, the Scot Gary Orr and the Swedes Daniel Chopra and Pelle Edberg in second place.
Lying 15th in the Ryder Cup table, Dougherty has not had a top-50 finish in his past seven starts. "Both my wins have come from the front, but I will take where I am right now," the Liverpudlian said. "It's just lovely to be in contention going into the final round."
Chris Wood, who is making his professional debut after finishing fifth in the Open, was five back. The 20-year-old from Bristol holed his pitch to the first for an eagle two, and when he turned in a five-under 29 he was only one off the lead. But he double-bogeyed the 12th and dropped another shot on 18 for a share of ninth.
"I can't be disappointed, given how I felt," Wood said. "I had food poisoning yesterday, was sick in the night and didn't sleep much. I feel OK now, but I've not eaten anything and didn't feel comfortable with my swing."
Hanson has won only one of 174 European Tour events in his career, but at 24th in the Ryder Cup standings he cannot quite be ruled out of the equation yet.
"I think I've put myself a littlebit too far back, but if I win I'll change my mind about taking next week off," said Hanson, whose only victory came in the 2005 Spanish Open. "I want to give myself every chance. Of course you can feel pressure playing at home, but I think it's more inspirational."
Kjeldsen is lurking justbehind Dougherty in 16th in the Cup standings and, like the Briton, he would be right on the fringe of the top 10 if he was to win today.
The German Martin Kaymer, currently 11th in the table, needs a top-12 finish to move back into an automatic qualification spot with only two more tournaments to come. After a 68 he is joint 20th on three under, while Chopra, who is based in the United States, won on the PGA Tour in January and could yet force himself back into the picture.
Qualification for the 10 automatic Ryder Cup places ends on 31 August and after that Nick Faldo, the European captain, will name two wild cards.
How the Ryder Cup teams are shaping up
Padraig Harrington (Ireland); Lee Westwood (England); Sergio Garcia (Spain); Henrik Stenson (Sweden); Robert Karlsson (Sweden); Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain); Justin Rose (England); Oliver Wilson (England); Graeme McDowell (Northern Ireland); Soren Hansen (Denmark).
Current standings: top 10 at 31 August qualify for team, plus two wild cards to be picked by captain Nick Faldo. Leading contenders include Ian Poulter (England), Paul Casey (England), Martin Kaymer (Germany), Ross Fisher (England).
Phil Mickelson; Stewart Cink; Kenny Perry; Jim Furyk; Anthony Kim; Justin Leonard; Ben Curtis; Boo Weekley.
Top eight have already qualified, plus four wild cards to be picked by captain Paul Azinger on 2 September.
The 37th Ryder Cup is at Valhalla, Kentucky, from 19-21 September with Europe defending the trophy.
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