European Ryder Cup Hopefuls Hit Form At Czech Masters As Countdown To Italy Intensifies

It's not long until Europe's side is named for the Ryder Cup, with a number of hopefuls making big statements at the Czech Masters

Robert MacIntyre watches his tee shot
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The European Ryder Cup team is shaping up nicely, with Viktor Hovland's red hot form in America meaning he, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm have all secured automatic qualifying spots for this year's clash in Italy.

With just a week left of Ryder Cup qualification, the race is firmly on for the final three automatic spots in Luke Donald’s European team before he names his six Captain’s Picks on Monday 4th September. This meant there was a lot of eyeballs on this weekend's penultimate event at the Czech Masters on the DP World Tour, as well as the Tour Championship in America.

Leading the pack for Rome is Scotland's Robert MacIntyre, who had an impressive final round 66 at the Albatross Golf Resort in Prague on the DP World Tour. MacIntyre, who has never played in a Ryder Cup before, birdied the last in the Czech Republic and punched the air as he took a big step towards Italy with a tied fourth finish at the tournament, where Donald played. 

The result leaves MacIntyre third on the European points list ahead of the final event, the Omega European Masters, at Crans-Sur-Sierre Golf Club, with the Czech Masters finish also extending his lead over Yannik Paul and Adrian Meronk in the points list.

Also seizing the chance to shine in Prague was Denmark's Nicolai Hojgaard, who came third with a final round 69. The result puts him firmly in the frame, with his twin brother, Rasmus, finishing in a tie for 39th, whilst Swedish rookie, Ludvig Aberg, recorded a tied fourth place finish to sit alongside MacIntyre. Since turning professional, Aberg has shown huge potential with a number of fine results.

Ludvig Aberg is on Luke Donald's radar for the Ryder Cup

Aberg will certainly be on Luke Donald's radar for the Ryder Cup

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Matt Wallace, who missed out on the 2018 Ryder Cup despite three wins in the season, is still chasing his debut and underlined his tenacity with a second place finish in Prague where he narrowly missed an eight foot birdie putt to force a play-off. 

Further down the leaderboard, Germany's Yannik Paul, who has one DP World Tour win, shot a five-under final round 67 to finish tied 10th and keep his name in the frame for Italy, while France's Victor Perez, who won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January, was tied 11th after a final round 67. 

Another name who will be looking to make his debut in Rome is Adrian Meronk, who finished in a tie for 62nd. Although it wasn't his best golf, the Pole has a lot of credit in the bank after three DP World Tour wins including the Italian Open at the Ryder Cup venue in May. 

Away from the DP World Tour, it is worth noting that there are seven Europeans in the Tour Championship field, the largest number in the tournament's history, with Hovland, Rahm, McIlroy, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood and Sepp Straka all featuring at East Lake.

James Nursey

James Nursey is a freelance contributor to Golf Monthly after spending over 20 years as a sports reporter in newspapers. During a 17-year career with the Daily Mirror, he covered mainly football but reported from The Open annually and also covered a Ryder Cup and three US Opens. He counts a pre-tournament exclusive with Justin Rose at Merion in 2013 as one of his most memorable as the Englishman went on to win his first Major and later repeated much of the interview in his winner’s speech.  Now, after choosing to leave full-time work in newspapers, James, who is a keen single-figure player, is writing about golf more.  His favourite track is the Old Course after attending St Andrews University but has since played mainly at Edgbaston, where he is a member. James’ golfing highlights include a hole-in-one and previously winning the club championship and scratch knock-out at Edgbaston. He is also an active member of the Association of Golf Writers and Press Golfing Society, for whom he has represented in matches. But he is just as happy hitting balls or playing the odd hole with his young daughter at their local club Shrewsbury.

James is currently playing: 
Driver: Ping G400
3 wood: Ping i20
Hybrid: Ping i20
Irons: Ping i500 4-SW
Wedges: Ping Glide forged 50, 56
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour
Ball: Titleist ProVIx