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PGA result boosts Nick Faldo's Ryder Cup options

The excellent PGA performances by Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose, finishing tied for 2nd and 9th respectively, have eased the burden on European Captain Nick Faldo's two wild card picks.

The Spaniard did his captain a huge favor by thrusting himself onto Europe's Ryder Cup team. Garcia is now third in the points list and a certainty to play at Valhalla, a fact that lifted his spirits after a disappointing runner-up finish in the PGA Championship. "It's great for the team," he said. "It's awesome to make the team. It was one of my goals this year and I am looking forward to it. Hopefully I can keep the momentum of my good form going into Valhalla."

Out of the top 10 as a result of the Spaniard's performance is German Martin Kaymer.

There was more cheer for captain Faldo courtesy of Justin Rose. The Englishman came into this week sitting over the trap door in the 10th and final spot for automatic qualification. He tied ninth at Oakland Hills and moved up to 8th place, overtaking Oliver Wilson and Soren Hansen, who missed the cut.

"It was a good week as regards the Ryder Cup," Rose said. "Every penny and every point counts, grinding down the stretch. I guess with Sergio cementing himself back into the team it frees up a pick for Nick because he won't have to use one on Sergio. The team is shaping up nicely. Ian Poulter and Paul Casey are playing really well. Key guys are showing form at just the right time."

Rose plans to celebrate with a week of R&R at his home in Lake Nona, Florida. "I'll put my feet up, jump in the pool, and grab a few beers tonight on the way home," he said.

Robert Karlsson, who tied for 20th at the PGA, has secured his post on Faldo's roster and is also planning to ahead of his trip to Kentucky. "I'm going to play in the KLM Open in Europe and then take three weeks off to get nice and rested for the Ryder Cup," he said.

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell continued the good form that earned him a win at the Scottish Open last month and finished in a tie for 15th. That earns him a ticket to his first Ryder Cup. "It will be a dream come true," said the former Walker Cup star. "It's huge for the team that we don't have to waste a pick on Sergio. I'm obviously excited about it. It's a great buzz."

With three weeks left, the players who would earn automatic places in Nick Faldo's side as things stand are Padraig Harrington, magnificent winner of the last two majors, Lee Westwood, Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson from the world points list - and Miguel Angel Jimenez, Graeme McDowell, Rose, Oliver Wilson and Soren Hansen off the separate table based on European earnings.

If that does not change, captain Faldo has to select his two wild cards from a list which includes Ian Poulter and Paul Casey.

Both have shown good form and are the favorites to claim Faldo's two wildcards at the end of the month if they don't automatically qualify. Poulter, who finished second at the British Open, is 12th in the standings after a T31 finish at Oakland Hills. He is fast closing in on Soren Hansen's all-important spot at No. 10 in the automatic qualifying spot.

Casey needs a win to qualify, but three recent top 10 finishes and a T15 at Oakland Hills serve as a timely reminder to Faldo what Casey can bring to the team. "If I don't win, all I can do is play exceptional golf and show the boss that I'm playing some decent stuff," Casey said.

Garcia's strong showing this weekend to make the team has certainly helped Casey's chances of earning a wildcard. "There's nothing else quite like the Ryder Cup," Casey said. The atmosphere is amazing. It's very addictive. And I don't want to miss it."

Faldo's other options, although increasingly unlikely, are Matin Kaymer, whose early season form has cooled, Colin Montgomerie, who may have lost his chance by missing the PGA cut with a horrendous 20 over par, eqaulling his worst ever score in a major, Darren Clarke, who also missed the cut, and the currently injured Luke Donald, who is contemplating surgery on his wrist.

The latest leading places (top five on world list on August 31 qualify, plus next five on European list. Captain Nick Faldo then adds two wild cards):

(Capitals indicate players currently in qualifying positions - click here for full lists)

World List

2 LEE WESTWOOD 266.18,
6 Miguel Angel Jimenez 202.35,
7 Justin Rose 187.14,
8 Ian Poulter 183.37,
9 Graeme McDowell 175.81,
10 Martin Kaymer 149.95,
11 Luke Donald 134.66,
12 Daniel Chopra 130.81

European List

1 Harrington 2,676,219,
2 Westwood 2,547,952,
3 Karlsson 2,183,494,
5 GRAEME McDOWELL 1,993,607,
6 Stenson 1,905,481,
7 JUSTIN ROSE 1,424,101,
8 OLIVER WILSON 1,366,285,
9 SOREN HANSEN 1,363,245,
10 Martin Kaymer 1,339,933,
11 Ian Poulter 1,315,024,
12 Ross Fisher 1,273,955


August 11 , 2008

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