Molinari secures a Ryder Cup spot as injury forces McGowan to quit

francesco molinari
Getty Images
Francesco Molinari (left) was congratulated by his caddie Thursday after becoming the first Italian player to make the European Ryder Cup team since Costantino Rocca in 1995.
By
PA Sport and Associated Press

Series:

Published: Thursday, August 26, 2010 | 3:48 p.m.

Francesco Molinari of Italy has been guaranteed a place on Europe's Ryder Cup team following Ross McGowan's withdrawal from the Johnnie Walker Championship because of an injury during Thursday’s first round.

McGowan pulled out of the final points-paying event after shooting a 5-over par 77 that put him near last place. The Englishman, who was struggling with a pinched nerve in his shoulder, needed to finish first or second to have any chance of making Europe's Ryder Cup team.

Molinari, seventh in the selection points standings, is one of the nine automatic European qualifiers. The Turin player, who shot a 68, will become the first Italian since Costantino Rocca in 1995 to compete in a Ryder Cup.

"It is not the best way of making the team, so I am sorry for Ross," Molinari said. "But I am very relieved as it feels good to know that I am now in the team."

McGowan had arrived at Gleneagles 12th in the standings, three places outside automatic selection. After a round that included eight bogeys, McGowan said it was time to rest.

"I'm pretty gutted, as I'm not one who likes to pull out of events, but we've pretty much tried everything other than injections," McGowan said. "Hopefully, there will be other opportunities to play in the Ryder Cup."

McGowan has been battling a pinched nerve in his left shoulder for the past month, but hit only four pitch shots in practice on Wednesday and has now been advised to rest it. The shoulder is just the latest problem he has suffered since finishing second to Lee Westwood in the Dubai World Championship last November. First came a knee strain and then a wrist injury.

He bogeyed four of his first seven holes, and though he hit his tee shot to the short 17th -- his eighth -- to 15 feet, he squatted down on the tee in obvious pain and as he got up clutched his shoulder and chest.

He dismissed the possibility of receiving ga wild card on Sunday evening, knowing that world top-22 players Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Edoardo Molinari are all needing one of Montgomerie three picks, and that even some of them won’t make the team.

Montgomerie, aware of McGowan's struggles, said: "I have great sympathy for him. He's come and made a great effort and I wish him the best."