Picking the best wild cards to try to win back the Ryder Cup will be the only thing on Colin Montgomerie's mind this weekend -- not where certain stars are playing.
With Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald sticking to their guns -- they are in America for the start of the PGA Tour’s FedExCup playoffs and not at Gleneagles, where they all could have automatically qualified for the team -- Montgomerie knows he either has to leave out one of them or Justin Rose when he names his three picks on Sunday.
Much though he originally wanted the quartet at the Johnnie Walker Championship and much though he expected them to fly across the Atlantic if they needed to, Europe's captain does not appear in the mood to punish them for their decision.
So if he does instead choose Italian Edoardo Molinari, the other world top-22 player requiring a wild card, or somebody else, it will be on golfing grounds rather than who has shown more support to the European Tour.
"I will be selecting the best 12 players," Montgomerie stated Wednesday. "My remit at the start of this campaign -- and it's never changed -- was to assemble the best 12 players.
"The situation of players not attending here has changed in my opinion. I'm glad that the players (in America) that might well get selected are playing competitive golf,” he explained. "I think the American team's performance at Valhalla was boosted by the fact that they were playing competitive golf right up to the Ryder Cup. If it boosts their performance, it can boost our own."
Montgomerie revealed that he knows the three who would get the nod if he were handing the wild cards out now -- Casey, Donald and Harrington are the three highest in the world rankings and with the most Ryder Cp experience - but nothing is yet cast in stone.
"I've not made my mind up yet," he stated. "It's impossible to do really because the scenarios might well change."
That is because only six of the nine automatic qualifiers are certain entering the final counting event. They are Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Ross Fisher.
Molinari's brother and World Cup-winning partner Francesco is almost home and dry in seventh spot, but Sunday's Czech Open winner Peter Hanson and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, knocked down to ninth by Hanson's victory and a late entry this week because of it, are under attack.
A top-2 finish could get Ross McGowan in, while Simon Dyson and Alvaro Quiros both have to win just to have a chance.
Fearing that changes in the weather might influence the outcome, Montgomerie has been given his wish that the main contenders play together in the first two rounds. McGowan tees off with Jimenez and Edoardo Molinari and in the very next group -- at 8:10 a.m. on Thursday and 1:10 p.m. on Friday -- Hanson is with Dyson and Quiros.
"If the wind changed or the wind sprung up, it would be very unfortunate if someone was left on the wrong end of the draw,” he said. "It does even itself out over the year, but on this occasion I wanted to have the players under the same conditions."
McGowan has suffered knee, wrist and now shoulder injuries this year.
"I was expecting to be on the team already," said the former English Amateur champion. "I think the only way I am going to make it now is to play my way in. It's down to me and hopefully I can."
Dyson commented: "I might as well give it everything and just go for it because I really want to get in. There's no room for second. It's like Will Ferrell said in 'Talladega Nights' -- 'if you're not first, you're last'."
Even Jimenez, who all his experience and his two wins this season, doesn’t think he will get a wild card if he is bumped out of the top nine like Casey was last Sunday.
"I saw Monty yesterday and said, 'it's good to be here because if I do not make the team by myself, I believe I am not going to be on the team,'” said Jimenez. "You see the list. There's too many good players not in. I believe he wants me on the team, but he doesn't want me as one of the guys to pick."