Jimenez opts to play at Gleneagles to defend his place in Ryder Cup team

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The Independent Online

Another day brought yet another reason to question the priorities of the "FedEx Four". Miguel Angel Jimenez yesterday showed Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington, Justin Rose and Luke Donald just what commitment to the Ryder Cup cause entails when scrapping long-laid family plans to enter this week's concluding qualifying event.

The Spaniard fell into the last automatic berth with his tied seventh-place finish at the Czech Open on Sunday and after calculating on the flight back to Malaga that Ross McGowan, Simon Dyson and Alvaro Quiros could all leapfrog him at the Johnnie Walker Championship he quickly changed his mind. Jimenez will miss his nephew's wedding and head to Gleneagles in search of the euros he needs to guarantee his place.

In truth, it is very likely he would hold on to ninth spot in the standings even if he had decided to attend the nuptials. McGowan requires a top-two placing to overhaul him, while only wins would do for Dyson and Quiros. But that still represents far too great a risk to the 46-year-old, who is plainly desperate to appear in his fourth Ryder Cup.

"Basically, Miguel feels this is likely to be his last opportunity to play in the match," said his manager, Sarah Phillips. "It's sod's law that one of the players who can pass him would do so if he wasn't there, so he wants to give himself the best opportunity."

Jimenez's eagerness will inevitably be compared to that of the stay-away quartet. Despite three of them having the chance to make the team by right if they played in Auchterarder – Rose being the exception – they have all decided to tee it up in the Barclays in New Jersey, the first event of the $70m (£45m) FedEx play-off series. Their collective refusal to budge on their schedules means that the Europe captain, Colin Montgomerie will, at the very least, have to overlook one of them when he names his three captain's picks after the Gleneagles climax on Sunday night.

Montgomerie repeatedly said he expects all the wild-card contenders to appear at the tournament he himself promotes and only recently, after discovering his demands have fallen upon deaf ears, has he softened his stance. But his apparent turnaround is not reflected among the rank and file of the European Tour who believe loyalty should be rewarded. Yesterday the coach of Darren Clarke, Montgomerie's vice-captain, targeted Harrington as the principal offender.

"It's generally accepted that making the Ryder Cup side is worth around £1m to those who represent Europe as off-course deals kick in," said Ewen Murray, who also commentates for Sky Sports. "But Padraig 'I will be devastated not to make the Ryder Cup' Harrington has played three events in Europe this year. What's all that about?"

Added the former Tour pro: "I suspect Padraig is not short of a few bob, so if he is so keen to play in Wales, why has his schedule favoured America? What has he got to prove over there, having already won three majors? I can't help thinking the Americans used to play for cash and the Europeans played for each other and glory. I have a disappointing feeling the tables are turned."

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