In the swing: how will Ollie whittle down his Medinah men?
With the Ryder Cup selection deadline fast approaching it’s time for Jose Maria Olazabal to make some tough calls, writes Neil Cullen.

THE RACE HAS heated up. Ollie has some selection head-aches. He’ll probably tell us it’s a good problem to have.

So, who does Jose Maria Olazabal pick for the European Ryder Cup team? The permutations are numerous.

Can you leave out a classy operator like Martin Kaymer?

Padraig Harrington has shone in Major Championships this year and brings a wealth of experience.

Ian Poulter has been a little off this season, but Ryder Cup matchplay seems to transform him into a ferocious impenetrable competitor.

What of the big Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts? He’s had a fine season and can make birdies with regularity.

Surely names like David Lynn and Rafael Cabrera-Bello will also have to be put on the table, albeit probably briefly.

The case can be made for many, but only two men will prevail.

What does Olazabal look for in his selections? What are the criteria of the bill he is looking for his players to fit?

He must consider who is going to add most value to the team of players who manage to qualify automatically.

Sergio Garcia, winner of the Wyndham Championship yesterday after a rain-delayed final round, is all but guaranteed a spot through the World Rankings list.

But it would have been interesting to see if Olazabal had opted for some of that famous Spanish flair had Garcia not made it by right. Could such thinking give Cabrera-Bello a seat at the table?

Naturally as Irish people we want to see Harrington play at Medinah, but comments by Captain Olazabal recently would seem to suggest this renewal may pass him by.

It seems odd that a man who has played so well in Majors this year and who has the experience and competitive spirit that Harrington does could be ruled out at such an early stage.

The final line up of automatic qualifiers can still change between now and the deadline, but it would take a win or close to it by one of the players on the fringes.

The Ryder Cup is dominating the inches devoted to golf because the selection deadline looms and whatever way the selection go it is likely to spark debate and candour, maybe even controversy.

But the more immediate matter at hand is the first of the FedEx Cup series events which gets underway this week.

Bethpage State Park, which we will remember as host of the 2009 US Open, will be the venue for this week’s Barclays event.

It will not be set up for a US Open, but that doesn’t make it an easy golf course. In fact, it is one of the toughest around and will test every fact of the players games over the four days.

As we move into the phase where there are more points on offer, players have the chance to really put themselves in contention to take home the big chas bonus on offer for winning the FedEx Cup.

To put that in context, Tiger Woods currently leads the race with 2,269 points, but there will be a pool of 2,500 to be divided out this week, compared to 500 points during the regular season. That means there will be a lot of movement up and down the rankings and it will be by no means a foregone conclusion.

The $10million on offer for the FedEx Cup winner contrasts greatly with the Ryder Cup, for which the players don’t get a penny in prize money, but while the reward may differ, the intesity of the competition and the will to win should be on a par.

The next few weeks is shaping up to be really entertaining.

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