Donaldson extends his stay in US
WELSHMAN JAMIE Donaldson has taken advantage of his top-10 finish at the USPGA Championship to stay on in America – and it could even bring him into the reckoning for the Ryder Cup.
The Irish Open champion finished joint seventh at Kiawah Island and will play the first regular PGA Tour event of his career at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“I realised when we’d finished that it was a top 10 and I was in,” Donaldson said. “There’s nothing in Europe at the moment and it’s just another week in the heat on what looks like a great golf course.”
The 36-year-old’s win at Royal Portrush last month – his first in 255 European Tour starts – has helped him to 21st place on the Ryder Cup table. Winning this week and then doing it again in next week’s Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles could get him into Jose Maria Olazabal’s team automatically.
That is asking an awful lot obviously, but Olazabal also has two wild cards to hand out and, with a strong final push, Donaldson would have to be considered a candidate for a side that at the moment does not have a single uncapped player on it.
“Confidence is high, so we’re looking for another big week,” added Luke Donald’s former world amateur championship team-mate, who is considering entering the PGA Tour qualifying school at the end of the season.
The Ryder Cup is bound to be on the minds of Sergio Garcia and Nicolas Colsaerts as well this week. They were pushed down to 11th and 12th in the standings by Ian Poulter’s third-place finish in the last major of the year, but the world ranking points on offer can take them back into an automatic top 10 spot.
Colsaerts also has Gleneagles to do it, but Garcia will be left needing a captain’s pick if he finishes outside the top three on Sunday as the start of the FedEx Cup play-offs next week does not count for points.
Jason Dufner and US Open champion Webb Simpson are the only two American Ryder Cup qualifiers in the field. Defending champion Simpson plays the first two rounds with captain Davis Love and Carl Pettersson, who tied for third at Kiawah Island.
England’s Paul Casey, meanwhile, makes another attempt to halt a dramatic slump following his dislocated shoulder suffered snowboarding last Christmas. The former world number three has made only one halfway cut in 2012.