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Nick Dougherty has sights on Ryder Cup place

Nick Dougherty has a special reason for trying to claim this week’s Italian Open title following the death of his 61-year-old mother Ennis.

The Englishman is determined to fulfil her wish of making this year’s Ryder Cup team and a win at Tolcinasco would enhance his ninth place on the European Ryder Cup combined table.

Last year Dougherty had the Italian tournament in his grasp when he was three shots clear with nine holes to play but his mistakes and a surge through the field by eventual winner Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano cost him victory.

The Spaniard clinched the title against Austrian Markus Brier in a playoff leaving Dougherty disappointed.

“My mum thought I was going to win in Italy and I really should have won it last year for her,” said Dougherty, who attended his mother’s funeral on Tuesday after she died in Florida several days ago following a heart attack.

“I’d love to be able to just grab it for me and my dad and my family but it isn’t going to work like that. I don’t know how I’m going to react. It could be (a round of) 67 or 87 tomorrow,” Dougherty told reporters on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old is determined not to try too hard and mar his chance of a Ryder Cup debut in the team captained by his mentor Nick Faldo.

“To be part of Nick’s team would be superb and it is my main ambition because that is what she (Ennis) wanted me to do,” Dougherty added. “This week I have to find a way to not want to win it too much, just relax and play.”

Fernandez-Castano and Brier again line up at Tolcinasco along with last week’s losing Spanish Open playoff contender Ignacio Garrido of Spain.

Robert Karlsson, eighth on the European Ryder Cup combined table, has passed up a chance of competing in the U.S. PGA Tour’s Players Championship this week to feature in Italy where, at 48th, he is the highest world-ranked player in the field.

The Swede, who made his Ryder Cup debut in 2006, cited “confusion over qualification” as his reason to opt for the Italian Open, which carries $2.5 million prizemoney as opposed to $9 million in the Players Championship.

“I kept hearing different cut-off times for qualifying on the world rankings and I wasn’t sure I’d be playing Sawgrass so I made plans for Italy and stuck with them,” Karlsson told reporters. “I think it could still work out well for me.”


May 8, 2008

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