McGinley under fire as classy field contests Ryder Cup cut

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The Independent Online

With all the contenders for the European Ryder Cup team present, as well as dispassionate observers such as Retief Goosen and John Daly, anyone with aspirations of facing the Americans in Detroit next month, whether from the automatic standings or by receiving a wild card selection from the captain, will have to perform against a high-class field at the BMW International.

About the only people missing are Jesper Parnevik, who reckons there are too many players ahead of him in the queue for one of Bernhard Langer's two picks, and Langer himself. The German is still in the States taking his daughter to college.

It is, apparently, a strange absence but Langer will be here at the weekend, which is when someone will have to alter his thinking. Langer has made a career out of doing things his way and it has usually led to him being better prepared and more informed than anyone else.

Five players have qualified already from the world points list which concluded at the NEC World Invitational: Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimeñez and Lee Westwood.

The BMW sees the end of the money list table - one euro equals one point - that has also operated over the last 12 months. Thomas Levet, the Scottish Open champion, is already sure of his place and Paul Casey is all but sure. David Howell, Ian Poulter and Paul McGinley, however, will be defending their places in the team. Only 114,302 euros separate Howell in eighth place and Brian Davis in 14th and there are 300,000 euros for the winner. Poulter is trying to avoid finishing in 11th place as he did in 2001 but McGinley, who is playing for the 10th successive week, is the man most under fire.

The Irishman holed the winning putt at The Belfry two years ago, but only leapt into the top 10 by finishing second in the KLM Open and sixth in the USPGA Championship earlier this month.

Six players can still force their way on to the team, though even if McGinley does not add to his points tally, their task is formidable.

Jean-François Remesy, the French Open champion, needs to be no worse than seventh, Joakim Haeggman sixth, Fredrik Jacobson fifth, Davis fourth, Raphael Jacquelin second and Graeme McDowell first.

But, as ever, most speculation concerns the wild card choices. If one of the players holding a qualifying position is overtaken it could complicate the wild card scenario, particularly if it is McGinley. Otherwise, Langer will be looking to the experience of Colin Montgomerie and the Scandinavian Masters winner Luke Donald.

Funnily enough, and once again the computer that does the draw has shown a distinctly human sense of humour, Montgomerie and Donald will play in the same group for the first three days. Has Monty been given the nod? That may be the appropriate word, for it would only be something unspoken and deniable.

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