Lee Westwood’s Ryder Cup place is on the line with the fate of the Englishman in the hands of Shane Lowry entering the final day of the BMW PGA Championship in Wentworth
- Lee Westwood’s place in the European Ryder Cup team is at stake
- Westwood has always been present in the automatic slots for the competition
- The Englishman’s fate now rests in the hands of Irishman Shane Lowry
- His place is on the cutting edge going into the final day of the BMW championship
After two years of being certain of being part of the European Ryder Cup team, Lee Westwood’s place is hanging in the balance as we head into the final day of BMW PGA Championship qualifying in Wentworth.
Almost always been in the nine automatic slots for Whistling Straits for two years and now, for the final round, his fate is effectively in the hands of Irishman Shane Lowry.
Here’s how tight it is: When Lowry made three holes on the front nine on Saturday, he knocked Westwood off the team. When the 2019 Open champion made a bogey on the 15th, Westwood was back inside. A birdie on the 18th brought Lowry past the Englishman again.
Lee Westwood’s Ryder Cup place is on the line as the final day of the BMW PGA Championship in Wentworth goes into effect
Birdies from some of the other PGA candidates and an eagle from Jamie Donaldson on the 18th, however, pushed Lowry a few places in the tournament to a three-way tie for seventh, leaving Westwood to hold on to his place. With 2.34 points, to be exact. It’s good that they have powerful calculators at European Tour hq.
Westwood insists he’s not stressed about it, not even taking up a suggestion to that effect in the Sports post. So let us be emphasized on his behalf. Unlike Lowry, who was virtually guaranteed to get a wild card if he were the one to miss, it would really be a case of sweaty palms if Westwood, who shot 71 on Saturday to share 43rd position in the tournament, took the man is on the outside by fractures.
Captain Padraig Harrington may have to pick three between Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose. Imagine missing out on Sir Nick Faldo’s record of 11 Ryder Cups at the age of 48 in such dramatic circumstances. Almost too cruel to think about, isn’t it?
The Englishman’s fate is now effectively in the hands of Irishman Shane Lowry (above)
Lowry single-handedly needs at least a top eight finish to pass Westwood and plays on a course where he finished second in 2014 and in the top 15 in each of the last four editions. This could go well until the last putt on the 18th hole. At the start of the event, there was a cozy assumption about the composition of the team, despite the many variables that could potentially unfold. Under this complacent mindset, Lowry and Westwood had to hold their own, leaving Harrington with three straightforward picks of Garcia, Poulter, and Rose. The man who blew up that idea, and in a sense it did, was the quietly impressive Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.
Three over par after six holes on Thursday, the 35-year-old from Vienna looked like he was playing quietly. He was still two over par when he played 17th, but a birdie, eagle finish changed everything.
No one has played better since then as he followed one 67 on Friday with another to get next to Lowry and take a tie for seventh. The big hitter is now about to become the first Austrian to play in the Ryder Cup. “I’m very proud of the fact that I didn’t allow myself to think ahead about what might happen,” he said. “It’s our showpiece and my main focus is trying to win, instead of being distracted by something else.”
Westwood has almost always been present in the nine automatic slots for two years
Wiesberger picked a good day to shine, with Ryder Cup vice-captain Martin Kaymer his playing partner. “He just played so well,” said the German.
If Lowry and Wiesberger both have really good days, it could threaten the position of both Matt Fitzpatrick and Westwood, but let’s not go down that road where all kinds of ifs and buts and madness lie.
As for the tournament itself, Englishman Laurie Canter coped well with his unusual position in the final pool to get one shot off the surprise leader, Italy’s Francesco Laporta.
Australian Adam Scott, who appeared on the West Course for the first time since 2006, shot 70 to end up two behind veteran Welshman Donaldson and American Billy Horschel. Rose (72) didn’t have his best gear and is five behind.
So it should be a finish on both fronts, with Harrington calling his three wildcards a few hours after the last putt is holed.