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Justin Rose looks to cement Ryder Cup place

The Ryder Cup means more than making some extra cash to Justin Rose.

Rose is competing at the KLM Open rather than the opening leg of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs this week.

With two weeks to go in the race for Ryder Cup places, the man ranked 12th in the world is still not certain of a Ryder Cup debut.

“I hope there will be 20 more FedEx Cups for me - but I’ve been looking forward to this Ryder Cup for a long time,” Rose said.

The 28-year-old is eighth on the points table, and that means three players have to pass him to knock him out of an automatic spot.

“I might not need to make one more Euro, but by coming here it’s in my hands,” he added.

“It’s certainly a situation where I would not feel comfortable sitting in the States. But I am still in a very comfortable situation - the other three are really sweating over it.”

Oliver Wilson and Soren Hansen are $84,465 and $89,095 behind Rose in ninth and 10th spots. But the player pushing them, German Martin Kaymer, is just $395 further back.

If all goes well for Rose - a top-three finish should virtually guarantee him a first cap - he will head straight back across the Atlantic, although he may be too far back in the FedEx Cup standings by then to have a realistic chance of the $9.3 million jackpot there.

If all goes badly, however, he will have to play the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles - the final event of the year-long qualifying process.

If all goes badly there he might be struggling for a wild card - unless, that is, captain Nick Faldo shares his view on how the side is shaping up.

Colin Montgomerie - out of form since his runner-up finish at the French Open at the end of June - and Darren Clarke, unbeaten two years ago when he played just six weeks after the death of his wife, already need a pick.

“I think there’s enough experience there already. The team is looking exceptionally strong,” Rose said.

Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Robert Karlsson, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Graeme McDowell are all on Faldo’s team sheet - and of those, Ulsterman McDowell is the only uncapped player.

Rose, Wilson, Hansen and Kaymer would all be debutants. But for the wild cards Montgomerie and Clarke are already in competition with Paul Casey - while Open runner-up Ian Poulter, currently 12th in the standings, needs a great week in America to save himself from a trip to Gleneagles next week.

Hansen has not had a top-60 finish in his last four starts - including, of course, the last two majors of the season - but gave his confidence a much-needed boost on Monday when he had a putt for a 59 in a company day for one of his sponsors.

“It was from 30 feet, and I hit it way too hard and three-putted,” the Dane said.

Wilson, four times a runner-up this season but still to register his first European Tour win, piled the pressure on himself as well by missing the cut in both The Open and PGA Championship.

The Mansfield golfer goes head-to-head with Rose in the opening two rounds but will be just as interested in how Hansen, Kaymer and those just a bit further back - defending KLM Open champion Ross Fisher and Nick Dougherty - are faring.

August 21, 2008

 




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