There is plenty at stake at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth this week. Players are battling to win the European Tour’s flagship event, but the Ryder Cup is looming large with Padraig Harrington set to make his captain’s picks Monday.
There are plenty of scenarios as players jockey for position this week, with plenty of points up for grabs. Lee Westwood, Shane Lowry and Bernd Wiesberger are three players whose qualification could go either way this week.
Lee Westwood is currently in position to qualify for the European team, but he questions having such an important event for qualifying so close to the start of the Ryder Cup, which begins September 24.
“There's so many variables with the way we've set up the qualification this time around. This tournament is heavily loaded compared to everything else we've done, and I think it's something to maybe look at in the future,” Westwood said.
Both the European and American sides have struggled to get the right amount of captain’s picks and the timing of those picks over the years. The balance between picking the hot player going into the event and picking the team with enough time to adequately prepare all 12 players for the event has been difficult.
The most notable decision for the US was in 2014, when Billy Horschel was left off the team even after he won the FedEx Cup. This year, the US chose to have just six automatic qualifying spots and allow captain Steve Stricker to choose the other half of his team after the Tour Championship in what was called the Billy Horschel rule.
Westwood and others are adamant that they are here to win the BMW PGA Championship this week, but some are more concerned with the Ryder Cup than others.
“I'm here to try and win the BMW PGA Championship and Sunday night, if you're in the team, then you start thinking about The Ryder Cup,” Westwood said.
Justin Rose, who needs a win to qualify for the European team after missing the FedEx Cup playoffs on the PGA Tour, is trying to ignore the Ryder Cup this week. Rose sits in a tie for sixth at 9-under through 36 holes.
“At least I'm in the tournament now where I can focus on that being the goal without The Ryder Cup being a part of that,” Rose said. “It would be more frustrating if there were other scenarios in play, like a Top-10, something to cloud the judgment.”