Lots of Options for Faldo


Nick Faldo has a long week of thinking ahead: Who will he decide to take to Valhalla as his two captains wildcard picks? Might he have already made the decisions? Its doubtful as so many factors could potentially come into play. May there be one pick already firmed into the mind? Thats likely as Darren Clarkes victory at the KLM Open has surely placed him at the front of the queue, but there are many others waiting in line:
Perhaps Paul Casey, with two Ryder Cups under his belt and the experience of playing in the United States should make it. The 31-year-old Englishman has decided to play the Deutsche Bank Championship instead of going to Scotland where he was a champion two years ago for the Johnnie Walker Championship. The PGA TOUR event this week finishes on a Monday; Faldo will announce the picks on Sunday at Gleneagles.
Now, as GolfChannel.com Insider Brian Hewitt first reported, European Tour executive director George OGrady has granted Faldo stay of execution should he desire one. But Faldo said this past weekend that he wouldnt need it.
Who else might get the nod from the Deutsche Bank? Maybe Carl Pettersen, the winner two weeks ago in Greensboro. Hes got bundles of experience in the States, winning three times, but has never played in a Ryder Cup. With large ties to the U.S., Pettersen has opted to play the American side of the Atlantic since 2003. Is he loyal enough to Europe to get a pick? Probably not, but Faldo earns his pennies from U.S. companies nowadays.
Then theres Ian Poulter, whos shunned the Johnnie Walker in order to play the PGA TOUR this week. His excuse: this would be his 15th PGA TOUR start of 2008, the minimum required to retain membership. His schedule for the remainder of the year apparently is not able to squeeze in an extra stop in the States. Poulter could mathematically make the European side on merit; hes approximately 71,000 shy of the line, but wont be able to make that up because of his Scottish absence. Hes 21 world ranking points shy of the mark, converting to about a top-3 finish in Boston.
So what about those in Europe this week? Justin Rose is currently inside the mark and with a solid week will stay there; chances are he wont need a pick. Those next to him, Oliver Wilson and Soren Hansen, are probably expendable. Martin Kaymer, Ross Fisher and Nick Dougherty can all potentially qualify with clutch performances at Gleneagles, which by the way is the host to the 2014 competition.
I personally dont see Kaymer or Fisher getting a wildcard selection. But Dougherty is another matter. Nicknamed little Nick, Dougherty has been a Faldo protg ever since he captured the six-time major champions own Faldo Series back in 1997. Could Faldo reward his young talent with a place on golfs biggest stage? Most definitely.
What about the outsiders, the players who would truly be a wildcard? Colin Montgomerie surely tops the list. Monty would need to play well at Gleneagles. Things are in his favour, though; hes on home turf and the new family home isnt far away. Theres Daniel Chopra, a PGA TOUR winner and fellow Orlando resident to Faldo. Paul McGinley would surprise a few people, but McGinley has the highest caliber Ryder Cup experience, holing the winning put in 2002. He may also be a good team partner for Padraig Harrington or Clarke.
Certainly a lot to ponder for captain Faldo. Well just have to wait until he utters the words on Sunday at the press conference, which youll see on GOLF CHANNEL, of course.
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