Edoardo turns up the heat on Ryder Cup captain Monty

Italian in position for victory that could make him an irresistible wild-card pick
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The Independent Online

Edoardo Molinari is not the only one who would be "very upset" and believe there is "something seriously wrong" if he finishes in the top three here this afternoon and Colin Montgomerie does not select him. The Ryder Cup captain would be a very brave man to ignore the Italian this evening. If not a bit daft.

It is undeniable that Molinari's case for a wild card has taken on a tantalising feel here at the Johnnie Walker Championship these last few days. So much for three being chosen from the FedEx Four. The Gleneagles One has made this a five-man fight. Molinari came here promising to make it "impossible" for the Scot to exclude him and thus far, has been true to his threat.

Going into this final day, Edoardo is one off the lead on nine under. And the identity of the pacesetter, who he will set out with for the most important round of his life? Francesco Molinari – his younger brother and fellow World Cup winner already sure of his berth. The last time the pair played in the last group on the last day happened to be seven weeks ago at the Loch Lomond club only 40 miles south from Gleneagles. Edoardo won the Scottish Open that day. And that, in effect, is where his seemingly inexorable march to Wales began.

Last night, Edoardo sounded like a man certain of his destination. "I would be very upset if I win and he doesn't pick me," he said after a 69. "I'm one of the candidates, so if I win the last event and don't get picked there's something seriously wrong... I expect if I finish in the top three tomorrow, he's going to pick me. But that's only my thoughts. I haven't spoken to him."

Edoardo so almost ran into the big man yesterday. As he had walked into the media room, Montgomerie left out the back door. He had been full of praise for the 29-year-old. "He's doing the same as Peter Hanson did last week, coming to an event having to win to make my decision even harder than it is," he said. Could he dare leave him out if he prevails? "Oh yeah," said Montgomerie. "But I might not."

It was not nearly anywhere as decisive as Edoardo and his many supporters on the European Tour would have liked. In many respects it is a shame the emotive arguments against the stay-away quartet – Padraig Harrington, Paul Casey, Luke Donald and Justin Rose – are backing up Molinari's inclusion. He has quite enough going for him anyway. "I have had six top fives already this year," he said. "And I don't think some of the other candidates have had so many."

Surely that would have been on the table when Monty had two of his vice-captains – Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjorn – around for dinner last night. But then, the third round of The Barclays was being beamed live from New Jersey and they would have checked how the FedEx Four were faring. "What am I going to cook," asked Monty with a wink. "Perhaps something Italian." There really was no getting away from it.

Polished performance from 'Zinger' puts Yanks one-up

The two sides have not even been selected yet and the match is still four weeks away but already the Ryder Cup banter has started. And it's fair to say that the Americans are already one-up, their first point coming courtesy of their former captain, Paul Azinger.

Not content with inflicting on Europe their first defeat this century at Kentucky two years ago, the mischievous character they call "Zinger" is determined to remind the opposition. On Friday, Ian Poulter, who is celebrating passing the million mark in Twitter followers, sent out a message to his readers inviting them to pose questions.

A little while later, Azinger tweeted back – "Is it too late to ask a question? I was busy polishing this," (with a link to a picture of Azinger polishing the Ryder Cup trophy). Poulter is not usually lost for a retort, but was on this occasion. "Zinger I love it," was all he felt able to reply.

Roll on Celtic Manor.

James Corrigan