Golf-Ryder Cup spots up for grabs at BMW PGA Championship

FILE PHOTO: Golf - The 149th Open Championship - Royal St George's, Sandwich, Britain - July 15, 2021 England's Lee Westwood on the second tee during the first round REUTERS/Rebecca Naden/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - The scramble to secure one of the remaining spots in Europe's Ryder Cup team will be the main focus at this week's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth with seven places still up for grabs.

Five players -- Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland and Paul Casey -- are already guaranteed for the match at Whistling Straits from Sept. 24-26 where Europe will be hoping to retain the title they won in France in 2018.

But four players can still qualify on merit with another three wildcards picked by captain Padraig Harrington.

With the top four on the European points list and the top five on the world points qualifying automatically, English trio Tyrrell Hatton (third on the European list), Matt Fitzpatrick (seventh) and Lee Westwood (eighth) look primed to take three of the last four spots on merit.

Ireland's Shane Lowry is also in a strong position to qualify by right but several players will enter the prestigious Wentworth event knowing a strong finish could see them book a place on the plane to the U.S.

"Obviously I'm here and probably a few people gunning for me this week but I'm in a great position," Lowry told the European Tour website. "I've worked very hard this year to get there.

"I've spent definitely the last five, six years trying to make a Ryder Cup Team. So I feel like I've got a great opportunity this week and looking forward to going out and trying to do it."

Among those holding out hope are Austrian Bernd Wiesberger who would be making his Ryder Cup debut.

"I feel good. I am really looking forward to what is now the last week of qualification," he said. "Lots of guys in the vicinity of directly qualifying and trying to give Paddy a little extra incentive for if they are playing well."

Harrington said his "picks" would not be about picking the 10th, 11th and 12th players on the list.

"The picks are about picking three players who complement the nine who qualify, and who match up well with those guys and bring balance to the team where it's needed," he said.

Ryder Cup stalwarts Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia would be favourites to be captain's picks in view of their inspirational qualities. Garcia is Europe's record points scorer with 25.5 from his nine appearances, while Poulter has been one of Europe's most reliable points scorers.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)

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