European Team Taking Shape

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AKRON, Ohio -- Luke Donald made an early charge in a late bid to make his first Ryder Cup team, but now must wait one week to see if European captain Bernhard Langer finds him worthy of a captain's pick.
 
Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia, Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Lee Westwood officially qualified for the European team Sunday from standings that were based on world ranking points over the last year.
 
Donald, a 26-year-old Englishman who plays nearly all his golf on the PGA, needed to finish second at the NEC Invitational for a chance to surpass Westwood in the standings. He was tied for second through seven holes, but then bogeyed four of his next five holes to finish at 72 and in a tie for 16th.
 
Five more players will make the team after the BMW International Open next week in Germany, those coming from standings based on money earned on the European tour. Langer then will have two captain's picks.
 
'Now it's out of my hands,' Donald said. 'Hopefully, I've played solid enough to catch Bernhard's attention, which I think I have.'
 
Donald rarely plays in Europe, so he is too far down the money list to have a chance to qualify next week. Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden, still has a chance to earn his way on the team, 13th in the money standings.
 
And then there's Colin Montgomerie.
 
The burly Scot closed with rounds of 75-75 at Firestone to tie for 58th, leaving him no chance to qualify for the team on his own. Montgomerie has played in six Ryder Cups, but this is the first time he has to rely on the captain.
 
Langer is believed to be leaning toward using one of his picks on Montgomerie.
 
'It would have been nice to see Monty contend, but he is not far away,' Langer said Sunday
 
Europe will try to defend the cup Sept. 17-19 at Oakland Hills outside Detroit. The United States selected its team last week, and captain Hal Sutton looked good taking Stewart Cink, who won Sunday for the second time this year.
 
Thomas Levet of France secured a spot on his first Ryder Cup team. He has large enough lead in the money standings that he is guaranteed to finish among the top five.
 
Paul Casey is next behind Levet in the standings, and he closed with a 68 at Firestone to solidify his position going into the final qualifying event.
 
Paul McGinley, who holed the 8-foot par putt at The Belfry two years ago to clinch the cup for Europe, was in 10th place coming into Firestone and had a chance to pick up ground because the two guys ahead of him - David Howell and Ian Poulter - were not eligible for the World Golf Championship. He shot 72 on Sunday and tied for 46th.
 
Harrington earned the most world ranking points over the last 12 months, locking up a spot on the team months ago.
 
'I haven't really been thinking about it too much,' he said. 'It's nice watching to see the guys fighting to get in. I like the fact the guys at the lower end have been playing to get into position.'
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - WGC-NEC Invitational
  • Full Coverage - WGC-NEC Invitational
     
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