If only they could all be like Simon Dyson and Graeme McDowell. The pair will go out in the final round of the Wales Open here today with the mission of impressing Colin Montgomerie in deed and display. A week that began with all the talk of the Ryder Cup stayaways blessedly seems set to end with the Ryder Cup wannabes.
As it happens, Dyson will be rather more than a wannabe if he can overhaul Marcel Siem, the ponytailed German whom he trails by four shots. The Yorkshireman's second victory in the points race would take him to the very brink of qualification. Indeed, with more than €1.4 million (£1.2m) in the bank it would be difficult to imagine a scenario in which Dyson could not confirm his Ryder rookie status. All past data suggests he would require less than €100,000. And when you happen to be in all the major events – as Dyson is – that is as onerous an earner as Bill Gates wandering down to the cashpoint.
Dyson, however, does not want to know, does not want to acknowledge the carrot dangling before his eyes. His dander is up but his visor is down. "Don't tell me what I need or where I am in the Ryder Cup standings – I don't want to know," he said after a 65 put him on seven-under, the same mark as McDowell. "I'll look at the points lists tomorrow night if I win."
But he must know he is close; if only for the fact that the Europe captain broke the habit of a strife-time to pass on his encouragement. Colin Montgomerie does not talk to anybody after a 76 barring the odd Samaritan or club-repairer. Yet as he breezed by the journalists surrounding Dyson outside the scorer's hut he shouted over: "Well done, Simon."
Monty had been impressed all day. Dyson was playing in front of the old man, so the funereal pace professionals play nowadays dictated him witnessing each and every shot. No, he didn't miss one and for that matter, neither did Dyson. "It was perfect; Colin watched me all round and I didn't miss a shot all round," he said. "I was very conscious he was there. It was the chance for me to show him what I could do and how I've been playing for the last three weeks."
Dyson should not need to rely on Montgomerie's patronage come the end of August. The way the charts are stacking up, his wild cards could well be required by one or more of the experienced European campaigners. Do not believe a word of Montgomerie's warning last week. He will pick a Padraig Harrington, a Sergio Garcia, or even a Paul Casey, if they struggle to make it on merit and do not answer his call to travel over to the final qualifier in Scotland. If the big boys have buttoned down their berths then those such as McDowell will come into the reckoning. The Ulsterman put in a commendable performance in Kentucky two years ago and will do everything in his power to get the nod. If he needs it, that is.
"My objective this summer is to get myself on to the team," he said. "I'm under no illusions, it's going to be a tough task. We have six guys in the top 10, meaning that's half your team right there. I'm desperate to be back here in October but I'm going to need a couple of big weeks. And that's probably going to involve winning a tournament like this and a top three at one of the majors."
McDowell will likely need another round like yesterday, although the predicted bad weather may not allow a 64. This was a sun-kissed Saturday in which the pros danced between the hay. Stephen Gallagher's 63 was the best of the day, taking the in-form Scot alongside McDowell and Dyson. A rejuvenated Thomas Bjorn and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, both on eight-under, separate them from Siem. The pacesetter looked awfully comfortable in slipping the field with his 66. But the chasing pack have more incentive than the usual Tour trinkets of euros and kudos.
"If I play well here tomorrow, even win the tournament, then when it comes to the crunch Monty might pull up the stats and find out who played well here," said McDowell. "The big difference between me now and two years ago was that there was no chance I was a legitimate pick, but I will feel I have a shot this time. I'll be extremely motivated going into August, trying to show Monty I'm good enough to be on the team."
Another plus next to McDowell's name is the partnership he forged with Rory McIlroy at last year's Seve Trophy. "Let's be honest, anybody could partner Rory – he's that good," admitted McDowell. "But when push comes to shove it might be a factor." Yes, for the Monty Manor hopefuls the pushing and shoving has already begun.Reuse content