If you needed an illustration of the bamboozling, fluctuating, fine margins of the Ryder Cup qualifying process then the last few holes of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth provided it yesterday.

When Shane Lowry bogeyed the 15th hole of his third round, the Irishman was out of the automatic places and Lee Westwood was in. When Lowry birdied the 18th, though, he was back in and Westwood was out. But then Adam Scott, who has nothing to do with the Ryder Cup at all, birdied the final hole and dunted Lowry down a place on the actual tournament leaderboard and back out of his automatic qualifying berth. 

Are you following? In this topsy turvy, golfing Hokey Cokey, you just about need the mathematical nous of Carol Vorderman to keep on top of things.

It is Italy’s Franceso Laporta who is on top of things as far as the actual championship is concerned.  

The 30-year-old, a two-time winner on the second-tier Challenge Tour, has never won on the main circuit but he is on course to land the European Tour’s flagship event. A three-under 69 gave the world No 264 a 14-under aggregate and a one shot lead over England’s Laurie Canter, with Scott, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Jamie Donaldson and Billy Horschel back on 12-under.

Laporta’s share of fourth in the Italian Open last week effectively safeguarded his playing rights for next year. Now he has loftier ambitions.

“There was far more pressure on me last week,” he said. “I feel more comfortable now and I’m actually playing better.”


As for the in, out, shake it all about Ryder Cup jig? Well, Lowry kept his foot in the door with that sliding birdie putt on the 18th green which gave him a three-under 69, an 11-under total and a share of seventh. With Westwood down in a tie for 43rd, Lowry needs to keep moving upwards to secure that automatic spot on Padraig Harrington’s team with Harrington himself probably reaching for the paracetamol amid the headache of all these volatile sub-plots.

“I imagine the refresh button on his (Harrington’s) phone is nearly broken at the minute looking at the team and the permutations,” chuckled Lowry of this chopping and changing. Keeping his head while many are scratching theirs has served him well.

“It's been a stressful week but I'm proud of myself and the way I've handled it to put myself in position,” added the 2019 Open champion, who is desperate to make a Ryder Cup debut in a fortnight. “I've been in big, high-pressure situations before and I'm not going to back down or shy away. I'm going to go out on Sunday and work as hard as I can to achieve my career-long goal."

Bernd Wiesberger had been another player with plenty of stress lumped upon him. A top-50 finish to secure a Ryder Cup debut may not have sounded too daunting but, in this pressurised environment, he is heading for his target in style. The Austrian bogeyed the first hole for the third day running but recovered with composure and guile and a strong finish featuring three birdies at 15, 17 and 18 in a 67 left him in a share of seventh with Lowry on 11-under. “Patience,” said Wiesberger of his steady and highly effective industry. “It’s a marathon not a sprint.”

On the home front, David Law and David Drysdale are the pick of the Scots on seven-under heading into the closing day.

Law, who was fourth in the Hero Open at St Andrews last month but missed his last three cuts coming into Wentworth, reeled off a brace of birdies at 17 and 18 in a 68 to move into a share of 25th.


Drysdale also finished with a flourish as his bid to hold on to his European Tour card kept ticking along.

Drysdale, who is currently six places outside the safety zone of the top 125 on the order of merit, bolstered his push for a sizeable and timely cheque with a trio of birdies on his last three holes in a spirited 69.

There will be plenty to play for at Wentworth today.