The first five Members of The European Ryder Cup Team have now been decided but a question mark remains over who will join them on the plane bound for Oakland Hills Country Club for The 35th Ryder Cup Matches. That question mark will be removed after this week’s BMW International Open at GolfClub München Nord Eichenried when the final seven Members of the Team are finalised.
Thomas Levet of France is safe but the positions of Paul Casey, David Howell, Ian Poulter and Paul McGinley are potentially under threat going into the 45th and final counting event of the year long qualification process.
All the contenders are in action and the permutations are endless. But when the dust settles on Sunday night European Captain Bernhard Langer will have his ten qualifiers and will then announce his two wild cards.
Every two years the race comes down to the wire and 2004 is no exception. A lengthy cast have been auditioning for the greatest golf show on earth and by Sunday night, those who have made the grade will be known.
The successful 12 will be travelling to Oakland Hills Country Club, Bloomfield Township, Michigan, USA, seeking to retain Sam Ryder’s golden chalice from September 17-19.
Lee Westwood, assured of a fourth Ryder Cup cap having been among the five qualifiers from the World Points List - along with Darren Clarke, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington and Miguel Angel Jimenez - defends the title following his emotional return to the winners’ enclosure 12 months ago when he charged home in 30 strokes to end almost three years in the golfing wilderness. It was Westwood’s 15th European Tour victory and laid the foundations for a return to form which saw him go on to win the dunhill links championship. This year Westwood has proven himself again on the world stage, securing four top tens in his last six events including joint second in the Smurfit European Open and finishing the highest placed European with fourth in the Open Golf Championship and joint ninth in last week’s World Golf Championships – NEC Invitational.
With the Ryder Cup World Points List finalised, focus turns to the European Points List. Taking out the five qualifiers through the World Points List, Thomas Levet leads the European Points List with 1,352,371 points and, as he cannot be knocked out of the qualifying positions, will become the second Frenchman after Jean Van de Velde to play in the Matches.
Casey is next in line with 1,209,912 points, 76,020 points ahead of Howell but there is only 31,970 points separating Howell, Poulter and McGinley. Perhaps more significant is the fact that Frenchman Jean-Francois Remesy is only 45,392 points outside the qualifying places.
With €300,000 available for the winner, anyone down to Graeme McDowell in 15th place in the European Points List has a theoretical chance of making the European Team, bringing Remesy, Joakim Haeggman, Fredrik Jacobson, Brian Davis and Raphaël Jacquelin into the equation. The result is a thrilling climax to the Ryder Cup race.