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Stage set for dramatic Sunday to determine final Ryder Cup spots at BMW PGA

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The good news for Padraig Harrington is that the European Ryder Cup qualification process will ultimately be settled in one day. But with 18 holes to play at the BMW PGA Championship, the waters are still murky.

As it stands, Bernd Wiesberger, Shane Lowry, Lee Westwood and Justin Rose are the prime candidates to disturb the current standings.

Nine players will automatically qualify for Captain Harrington’s team and he’ll round out the group with 3 picks. Only five of those spots are currently filled: Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland.

Full-field scores for the BMW PGA Championship

Complicating matters this week is the fact that double points are on offer at Wentworth, adding both drama and volatility. There are also two qualifying methods: the European points list and the World points list.

These are the projected standings through 54 holes in Surrey, England:

European Points List

  • Jon Rahm
  • Tommy Fleetwood
  • Tyrrell Hatton
  • Bernd Wiesberger

World Points List

  • Rory McIlroy
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick
  • Paul Casey
  • Viktor Hovland
  • Lee Westwood

At one point on Saturday, Lowry was tied for the BMW PGA lead and projected onto the team. Then he played hole Nos. 9-17 in 1 over par and he was out; Westwood in.

A birdie at the last moved Lowry (69) to 11 under, into a tie for fifth at the time, and back into the projected ninth and final spot. But, in a display of how quickly things can change, Jamie Donaldson finished birdie-birdie-eagle to leapfrog Lowry and move to 12 under. Adam Scott also birdied the final hole to reach 12 under. That bumped those at 11 under into a tie for seventh.

And that minor shift was enough to move Lowry outside the projected Ryder Cup cut line and Westwood back in.

Lowry 'won't back down' with Ryder Cup dream alive

Lowry 'won't back down' with Ryder Cup dream alive

Wiesberger (67) is tied with Lowry for seventh through three rounds. Needing only a top-50 finish to have a chance to make his first Ryder Cup team, he’s in fantastic shape. If Wiesberger finishes off his part, the final spot should come down to Lowry and Westwood.

Westwood (71) is currently T-43 and his fate may well be in Lowry's hands. Rose, meanwhile, is T-14 and five off the lead. He must win in order to automatically qualify.

It’s likely that two of the aforementioned will need to rely on the kindness of Captain Harrington. He will make his three picks after the BMW PGA and has previously said that Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia are all but locks.

That would leave one spot for Lowry, Westwood or Rose.

It makes for added drama in the final round of the European Tour’s flagship event, in which Francesco Laporta is leading Laurie Canter by a shot, with Scott, Billy Horschel, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Donaldson two back.