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Laporta leads by one shot as Ryder Cup race tightens up

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Italy’s Francesco Laporta plays from the 17th fairway on Day 3 of the PGA Championship on Saturday. AFP

Laporta leads by one shot as Ryder Cup race tightens up

Italy’s Francesco Laporta will take a narrow lead into the final round of the PGA Championship as the contest for a place in Europe’s Ryder Cup team looked like it might be decided by decimal fractions.

Laporta shot a third round of 69 at the Wentworth course, southwest of London, on Saturday for a total of 14 under par that left him a stroke ahead of England’s Laurie Canter.

Australia’s Adam Scott, a former US Masters champion, Jamie Donaldson, Billy Horschel and Christiaan Bezuidenhout are all a further shot back.

Meanwhile, European captain Padraig Harrington was left facing some awkward team selections for this month’s contest away to the United States at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin.

Bernd Wiesberger’s tie for seventh meant he was on course to overtake Rory McIlroy in the European points list, with McIlroy qualifying from the world points list instead.

That in turn would knock former British Open champion Shane Lowry out of the team, although Lowry can himself deprive Lee Westwood of a place with a top-eight finish or better, depending on the veteran Englishman’s result.

Lowry ended the day in a three-way tie for seventh and although Westwood was down the field, he still led the Irishman by 2.34 points in the race for a Ryder Cup spot.

Whoever misses out after Sunday’s fourth round will join the likes of experienced Ryder Cup campaigners Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia in vying for one of Irish golf great Harrington’s three wildcard picks.

Lowry is close friends with three-time major winner Harrington but he said Sunday: “He’s not saying much . . . actually. He’s been pretty quiet. It’s the first tournament we’ve played together in years that we haven’t had dinner together.

“I imagine the refresh button on his phone is nearly broken at the minute looking at the team and the permutations and what’s happened.

“I think no matter what happens with the tournament, if I’m named on that team at half seven Sunday evening I’ll be the happiest man in Ireland going home.”

Meanwhile, Westwood was relaxed about the prospect of missing out on a record-equalling 11th appearance in the Ryder Cup.

“I’m playing . . . like I’ve played for the last two or three months,” he said. “It’s nearly there but not quite.

“I’m not stressed about it. Trust me, golf does not stress me in the slightest any more. I don’t care enough about golf for it to stress me. I care about the Ryder Cup, it would be nice to be in it. But I don’t lose sleep about golf any more.”


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