Colin Montgomerie's dilemma for Ryder Cup selections
Montgomerie focused on Ryder Cup
SPORT WALES EXTRA
with James Pontin
Analysis and comment with BBC Wales' midweek online column
In a sock drawer, somewhere between Colin Montgomerie's cashmere finest and the old black ones with a hole in them, lies a list of 12 European names.
The list was written some time ago by the Ryder Cup captain. when choosing his team to wrestle back the prize seemed to be a simple task.
But now as D-day approaches for Newport's Celtic Manor in October - and Monty confirms his side at Gleneagles on Sunday night - that original list may be as much use as the floral wallpaper lining my grandfather's undies drawer.
Monty faces some very difficult choices. Names penned in permanent ink just a few months ago now seem to be forgotten men. The likes of Sergio Garcia, Robert Karlsson or Henrik Stenson are all out of the equation.
Big hitters such as three-time major winner Padraig Harrington and world number 9 Paul Casey require wildcard picks.
Outsiders such as Rhys Davies, Oliver Wilson or Alvaro Quiros are probably resigned to watching the event on tv.
First on the automatic qualifying list of nine is Lee Westwood. No doubt Europe's most consistent player, finishing runner-up in both the Masters and the Open at St Andrews.
But he's unlikely to play a warm-up event before the Ryder Cup because of a torn calf muscle that has bothered him since the end of June and forced him out of both the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA Championship.
Rory Mcilroy, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell occupy second, third and fourth respectively. No worries here for captain M with two major winners this year and one of the most exciting young golfing talents in the world on call.
Ian Poulter in the fifth berth might be one to watch. He started the year flying, winning the WGC Accenture Match Play and finishing 10th in the Masters but since April, he's failed to post a score below 70 on the European Tour and comes into the transatlantic duel as a golfer out of form.
He shone after receiving his wild card from Sir Nick Faldo in Valhalla, but could he raise his game in Wales?
Ross Fisher's win in Ireland and a second place in Germany sees him in a solid position and the man for Ascot should make his Ryder Cup debut.
Francesco Molinari hasn't won on tour, but could be paired with his brother Edoardo (wild card permitting) and that would surely provide some Ryder Cup spice.
Clarke tight-lipped on Ryder picks
Then we come to Peter Hanson the man causing Monty the most problems. The Swede's victory at the Czech Open elevated him into the automatic places and means Monty will be forced to lose one of his so so called 'big hitters'.
Hanson has won twice this year and recorded nine top 10 finishes. He's been in the top 40 of both the Open and US Open and has shown his worth... but he'll still be regarded as a minor cast member in a show made for stars.
Occupying the last spot at present is the charismatic Miguel Angel Jimenez, the Spaniard with three Ryder Cups under his belt already. He's missing a family wedding this weekend to make sure he gets in the team and Monty will admire that desire to succeed.
And so to the guys who await the nod like an underage teenager outside the must-be-at party.
Justin Rose has played so well in the States and could yet win the
Fed Ex Cup.
Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington and Paul Casey are all proven Ryder Cup players, but have chosen not to play under Montgomerie's nose at Gleneagles.
Rhys Davies, as a Welshman, would help inspire the home crowd. But in his first full year on tour, the Ryder Cup has probably come too early for him.
Colin Montgomerie said this week that selecting his team is a "more or less impossible" task and that it had "been the hardest team to make of any Ryder Cup team I have been involved with."
I suppose the only consolation he can take while weighing up his final decisions is that he doesn't have anyone called T. Woods to pick!
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