"Most people have a full measure of life... and most people just watch it slowly drip away. But if you can summon it all up... at one time... in one place... you can accomplish something... glorious." Ramirez' advice to Nick Dougherty, going into the weekend.
So this is it. Six golfers into three places don't go. The fight for the final three automatic qualifying places will not be a bloody one, but there will be three very unhappy faces come Sunday whatever happens. Justin Rose, Søren Hansen and Oliver Wilson hold the last three automatic places going to Gleneagles, but Martin Kaymer, Ross Fisher and Nick Dougherty all have a chance to pinch their spots. Ian Poulter would have been in the race too but he's taken his chances on winning a wild card spot, which is good news for all six boys listed there. You would imagine that whoever among them that doesn't get in through the front door will not really be in with a chance of a wild card. They ain't there for Rookies, and with wise old head Clarke and the much more experienced Casey currently favourite and Poulter and Monty also vying for a pick, Faldo isn't going to throw a bone to a whippersnapper in front of such illustrious names.
So hows the form coming into here, what will they have to do to get in and how good are their chances?
After gaining a lifeline in coming second at the SAS Masters two weeks ago, Dougherty was livid that he failed to make the weekend in Holland and close the gap further. It'll be as much down to the power of prayer as anything else if he does make it; A win is probably his only chance but another second place finish and some very dodgy results for the rest of the hopefuls could see him sneak it. But it's a long shot. He is best buds with Faldo after coming through his academy though so if he played really well and just missed out, he's the one chance that I can see of Big Nick giving out a really contorversial Wild card. Will have to give him some excuse with a great performance this week though.
Fisher has had some very good results this year, his win in the European Open was exemplary and he looks like one of the real stars of the future. But can he make his time now, instead of waiting for the next Ryder to make his debut? Well, since that great win, he hasn't had the best of results, no evidence of the push for qualification. He is in slightly better shape than Dougherty - third place may be enough for him to squeak in, but that's not much better off. Would still need some results to go his way- second, you would think could be good enough. He missed the cut last year though and I wouldn't be too sure he can do it.
He is well within touching distance of Oliver Wilson, if he finishes well and Wilson struggles, then he should get in ahead of the young Englishman. He has been strggling to make an impression since diving into the qualification stakes with his BMW Internatonal win, when many have been touting him to get there easily. Will need to rediscover some of the old spark and get something good this week. He also missed last years cut....
The vulnerable one in the current top ten. He had a lovely run, mid to early season, of very decent results which didn't gain him quite as much as a big win would have recently. He's not completely bereft of form just now, just not flying as he was. He is another of the new breed of great young English players but he too missed the cut here last year... Not overly confident that he's safe.
Søren Hansen Hansen may be strutting into this like race as the most confident of the lot. He finished in a tie for 3rd at Gleneagles last year and a repeat of that would be more than enough to ensure his place. With so many of the other boys here having either not played here last year or missed the cut, that's a significant mental advantage to hold. I would back him to make it.
Justin has given up the chance of Fedex Cup glory to be at Gleneagles this week, to ensure he makes the team. He has a good lead over the bottom three and should he get a decent finish in the top ten, it is unlikely that results will combine to see him pushed out. Should he miss the cut or finish poorly he is wide open for taking. But surely Justin is too much of the real deal to be missing out from this commanding position... isn't he?
Here's how the points lie without the stayaway Poulter... Each point is one euro earned in European tournaments this year..