Six players are fighting for the European Ryder Cup place

Scotland's Robert MacIntyre is in pole position to qualify for Europe's Ryder Cup team (Glyn KIRK)

Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre is in pole position to qualify for Europe’s Ryder Cup team (Glyn KIRK)

Robert MacIntyre heads a group of six players vying for a place in Luke Donald’s European Ryder Cup team this week at the final qualifying event in Switzerland.

Anders will name his six captain picks on Monday after the European Masters tournament in Crans-Montana, where several hopefuls for the biennial match play showdown are aiming for an automatic berth.

This year’s games will be held in Rome from September 29 to October 1, with Europe desperate to regain the trophy after their humiliating 19-9 defeat to the USA at Whistling Straits two years ago.

The absence of LIV Golf rebels and Ryder Cup stalwarts Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter has made the race for the European team more open than in recent editions.

Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy have already secured places on the 12 team via the European points list, just like Viktor Hovland and Tyrrell Hatton, via the world points list.

Tommy Fleetwood is currently set to qualify from the world points table but is skipping the European Masters and could be usurped by Matt Fitzpatrick.

The former US Open champion only needs to finish in a tie for seventh with one other player or better to clinch the spot, leaving Fleetwood needing a selection along with fellow former Ryder Cup stars Shane Lowry and Justin Rose.

The race for the third and final place on the European list is far less clear-cut.

Scotland’s MacIntyre holds a 126-point lead over Germany’s Yannik Paul and both players would be confident of a Ryder Cup debut with victory in Switzerland on Sunday.

Poland’s Adrian Meronk and Victor Perez of France both need at least top-two finishes to have any chance, while rising Danish star Rasmus Hojgaard and Spain’s Adrian Otaegui must win.

– All eyes on Anders –

An automatic place would save any of that sextet having to sweat over Donald’s decision on Monday.

The former world number one is expected to pick whoever misses out on Fleetwood and Fitzpatrick, along with Rose, Lowry and possibly great Sepp Straka of Austria.

Others have been tipped for possible wildcard selection despite being out of contention for automatic qualification, including Ramus Højgaard’s twin brother Nicolai, Ireland’s Seamus Power and former Ryder Cup winner Alex Noren.

Anders can choose an even more left-field choice.

Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg, who only turned professional in June, was able to force his way into the accounts.

The 23-year-old, who was the amateur world number one before he joined the professional ranks, has in the last two months placed top-4 on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour.

“All the (Ryder Cup) conversations are very flattering,” said Aberg, who will play with Ryder Cup vice-captains Edoardo Molinari and Nicolas Colsaerts in Crans-Montana.

“It would mean the world. As a young person growing up in Europe, I watched the Ryder Cup for so many years.

“It’s a dream come true if you were to be chosen for it once in your career. So I would love it, but it’s not up to me.”

Anders will have tough calls when he bids to complement the obvious firepower of Rahm, McIlroy and the in-form Hovland.

The USA have not lifted the trophy on European soil since 1993, but will land in Italy as favourites, with three of this year’s major champions, including LIV star Brooks Koepka, and world number one Scottie Scheffler in their ranks.

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