Not up for the Ryde
Rob Lee looks at why in-form Carl Pettersson may not be busting a gut to make the Ryder Cup.
Last Updated: 18/04/12 2:10pm
Carl Pettersson's victory at Harbour Town was the fifth PGA Tour win of his career and it shows there's room for all sorts.
In an era when gym monkeys like Tiger Woods spend hours and hours working on their fitness, it was fun to see Carl Pettersson's two-ball with Colt Knost on Sunday. The pair of them certainly didn't get stuck at the back of the buffet queue!
But at the end of the day, all that matters is what you write on your scorecard. It doesn't say how many hours you spent in the gym last week; it just says what number you got around the golf course in.
Pettersson is now up to number 35 in the world rankings and has tied with Jesper Parnevik as the Swede with the most career wins to his name, which is a tremendous achievement. He's won at Murifield Village, so his CV includes some very good tournament victories, too.
And yet he's not eligible to qualify for Europe's Ryder Cup team. He would currently be sitting in an automatic qualification spot on the world points list, but does not qualify because he hasn't taken out European Tour membership.
He hasn't committed to the European Tour's requirement of playing in 13 tournaments, probably because he and his family are firmly based in America. He even holds dual nationality after becoming an American citizen this year.
In his own words, maybe he doesn't feel too 'European'. He lived in England from the age of 10 for four years and then moved to North Carolina and did the high school and college thing, and if that's where you are mentally, then maybe you are less inclined to bust a gut to get into the team?
He only spent a couple of years playing on the European Tour before he moved to the States in 2002 and he's been there ever since. America is his life, so why should anybody tell him he should play in 13 European events?
But it will be interesting to see if he might be given a wildcard next August. He wasn't far off qualifying when the Ryder Cup was held at Valhalla in 2008 and I don't think there would have been too many arguments if he'd been chosen for that side.
And if he keeps playing the way he is then it would be difficult to look past him, especially if he wins again and continues with the sort of consistency that he has shown so far in 2012.
Put it this way, if he wins The Open and the PGA Championship then I think Jose Maria Olazabal will find a way to get him in the side!
And now that he has American citizenship then maybe Davis Love III will try to get him in the American team, too. If he's got an American passport and he spends all his time there then I don't see why he can't.
My solution? I reckon he should play fourballs for Europe in the morning and fourballs in the afternoon for the Americans!
At the moment the 10 automatic qualifiers for Europe's Ryder Cup team are Rory McIlroy, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose, Paul Lawrie, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.
That's a pretty good team and could take on anybody, but let's not forget it's only April and there's another four-and-a-half months and a lot of big tournaments to be played before the team is decided. I predict that those 10 names won't be exactly the same at the end of August.
There are a few other players you'd expect to be in the mix. Ian Poulter's an obvious one when you consider his team matchplay prowess and there are guys like Paul Casey, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn who are lurking outside, looking to break in.
I expect a surprise name to come through in the summer and although it's fun to keep tabs of the list, I don't think we'll get a clear indication on who's a lock and who's under pressure until July.
Rob's Sky Bet Tips
Volvo China Open: Chris Wood could be a good shout at odds of 40/1 because it sounds like it's going to be windy out in China and he could be suited to those conditions. He played very well in Sicily recently and he's my tip for this week.
Valero Texas Open: Someone could come out of nowhere and win this one, like Brendan Steele did last year. My call is big Harris English, who I've watched a few times this season and is a promising American player. With a lot of the big cats away, then maybe a little mouse will win and make a name for himself. He's good value at 40/1.