Peter Hanson wonders how much some stars want to be part of the Ryder Cup.
Hanson spoke out shortly after arriving at Gleneagles for this week’s Johnnie Walker Championship, the final points-paying event of the yearlong qualifying process.
"If you really want to make the team -- and, of course, if you are that close -- then you should be here and playing," he said.
The 32-year-old from Sweden moved up from 15th to eighth by capturing the Czech Open title in a playoff on Sunday, and as a result pushed Paul Casey out of the top nine who automatically earn selection this weekend.
Casey and Padraig Harrington, with top-five finishes, and Luke Donald, with a win, could all have guaranteed themselves another Ryder Cup berth by playing here instead of in The Barclays, the first of the PGA Tour’s FedExCup playoff events. But not one of the trio has, and with Justin Rose and Italian World Cup winner Edoardo Molinari needing one of the three wild cards as well, Montgomerie knows he will have to face the Americans without two players who are in the world's top 22.
"This isn't difficult -- it's more or less impossible," Montgomerie said on Sky Sports News. "It's a bit like [England’s World Cup soccer coach] Fabio Capello having to leave out Theo Walcott, I suppose. He could only take 23, I can only take 12.
"I wish I could take 20 -- I do, I really do -- because 20 deserve their spots this year. They've played great,” he explained. "Unfortunately, I can't please everybody on Sunday night. They understand my dilemma and their own and it is up to them to try to prove to me - this last final chance to make it pay."
Molinari is in Scotland, but Rose is with the other three at The Barclays. Montgomerie will make his decision before the winner there is known.
Miguel Angel Jimenez's late decision to enter Gleneagles was bad news for Hanson because he is ninth in the standings and could go past him by finishing in the top 14. But even if that happens, Hanson would still make his debut unless Ross McGowan comes in second or Simon Dyson wins.
Interestingly, Hanson plays with Dyson in the first two rounds -- and with Alvaro Quiros, who could deny Jimenez with a win. McGowan, meanwhile, plays with Jimenez and Edoardo Molinari, whose brother Francesco is almost home and dry at seventh on the points table.
So even after winning the Czech Open last weekend, Hanson knows he can’t afford to sit on his laurels this week.
“It is going to be very hard to refocus after last week, but then this is another tournament and I have to try and do my best,” Hanson said. “I will play the best I can to keep other people behind me, and of course, Miguel, now he decided to play.
“I played with Miguel in last Sunday’s final round, and he got asked right after we were done if he would use his top-10 exemption to play this week, and he said no,” he explained. “That pretty much got me even more motivated to try and win the playoff, and now I am here and he’s here and playing and that changes everything.”
Jimenez revealed he’d intended this week to attend a nephew’s wedding in Spain but instead decided to concentrate on making his fourth Ryder Cup.
At the Czech Open on Sunday, Hanson won when he holed an 18-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff with England’s Gary Boyd and Ireland’s Peter Lawrie.
Hanson is no stranger to team competition, having played for Continental Europe on last year’s losing Vivendi Trophy side. He was also a member of the Colin Montgomerie-captained European Royal Trophy team in Thailand. Hanson believes those experiences will put him in good stead for the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in October.
“If I make the Ryder Cup team, I think having played in the Vivendi Trophy and playing under Colin’s captaincy in the Royal Trophy will help,” Hanson said. “I played with Ryo Ishikawa in that match and had a great time against him. I have played three Seve Trophies or Vivendi Trophies, and I really enjoyed it. I love match play, and the playoff last week was a bit of a match-play situation.”
Hanson said he updated Montgomerie and Vice Captain Thomas Bjorn after the Czech Open and reiterated his Ryder Cup hopes. If Hanson fails to qualify for Europe, he believes Monty will not choose him as a captain’s pick.
“No, I don’t think he would pick me,” Hanson said.