Molinari makes claim for wild-card

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The Independent Online

While Colin Montgomerie was extolling the well-timed charge of Padraig Harrington in New Jersey, Edoardo Molinari was just a few feet away here doing the utmost to get himself noticed in the great wild-card war.

The "FedEx Four" can do what they want 3,000 miles away, but the Italian knows he is just two good rounds from making it almost impossible for the Scot not to select him as one of his three on Sunday.

A second round of 68 put Molinari on six-under, three off the pace set by England's Gary Boyd and France's Julien Guerrier. It was just the latest evidence of a truth which everyone on the range already knew – Edoardo is quality. Indeed, a straw poll was conducted by Sky Sports among the pros in this Johnnie Walker Championship about who most deserves a wild card and Molinari came out as the overwhelming winner.

Alas, the 29-year-old recognises tomorrow's selection will not go to a vote. He needs to impress one man. "I think the way I've played this year I'd already be in Colin's mind," said Molinari who cannot qualify by right. "So if I win this week I think the pressure on him to pick [me] will be huge."

The reasons for his inclusion barely require repeating. "I've won, had a lot of top 10s and come second in America, too. So if I don't make it I can count myself unlucky," he said. Then there is the relationship he has with a player whose berth is already confirmed. Edoardo just happened to win last year's World Cup alongside his brother Francesco.

It is a compelling case only weakened by the identities of the stay-away quartet competing in the first event of the play-off series in America. Yesterday, Harrington reeled off a 68 to put himself right into contention for more than just The Barclays. Monty wasn't surprised.

"When his back's to the wall he's done awfully well in the past," he crooned. "So all credit to him for showing some form when he has to. I was very interested in the way Padraig reacted to taking six at the last at the USPGA to miss the cut by one. Within five minutes of signing his card he was on the range. That says a lot."

Paul Casey also performed commendably, lying one behind Harrington after a 69, while Justin Rose shot the same number to stand on one-under. With Luke Donald due out later in the day, it was turning into a mad scramble for Monty's affections.

"In a perfect world, I would have liked another week of that FedEx competition," he said. "Corey [Pavin, the US captain] has the advantage of looking at the first two weeks of the FedEx competition to see who is on form. Any captain would like as much time as possible."

Monty has two days, although at least the top nine automatics are beginning to look set. Peter Hanson and Miguel Angel Jimenez, the two who can be caught here at Gleneagles, are on six-under and apparently trailing Simon Dyson's every step. The Yorkshireman is also on six-under but needs the win and his rivals to finish down the field.