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Thorbjorn Olesen
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Europe

Final European qualifying spot hangs in the balance

With the race to make the European Ryder Cup side entering its penultimate week, numerous players can move ahead of Thorbjørn Olesen, who is in the final automatic spot on the World Points List.

The D+D Real Czech Masters takes place in Prague this week, with Eddie Pepperell the only contender able to displace Olesen in the final spot there. 

Additionally, there are four players in the field for The Northern Trust, a FedEx Cup Play-Off event on the PGA Tour, that could make the team in Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Paul Casey, Russell Knox and Ian Poulter.

Olesen currently sits on 177.01 points but with 36 World Points available to the winner of the D+D Real Czech Masters and 114 to the winner of The Northern Trust, thanks to points being multiplied by 1.5, there could be big changes in Team Europe. 

Cabrera-Bello needs a 19th place finish, whereas Poulter needs an 18th place finish in America to displace Olesen, who isn’t playing on either Tour this week. Both players head into the event in great form too. 

For the Spaniard, a final round of 64 propelled himself into a tie for tenth at the US PGA Championship, before following that up with a T11 finish at the Wyndham Championship a week later. 

Cabrera-Bello, who has one Ryder Cup appearance to his name, has also finished T5 at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions and T3 at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship this season. 

For Poulter, known as “The Postman” at the Ryder Cup because he always delivers, he has enjoyed a resurgence in form that has seen him pick up five top tens this season and an additional win at the Houston Open back in January. 

Casey, who made a trio of consecutive Ryder Cup appearance between 2004 and 2008, needs a slightly better week than Cabrera-Bello and Poulter, with a 16th place finish most likely good enough to move into the final qualifying spot. 

Like Poulter, Casey is also a winner on the PGA Tour this year after his victory at the Valspar Championship in March. To add, he has a further four top eight finishes this season, including a T2 at the Travelers Championship in June. 

Finally, Knox will need to finish in fourth place if he is to leapfrog Olesen into the final automatic spot. 

The Scott narrowly missed out on a place in the 2016 Ryder Cup side but with a win this year at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation on the European Tour, Knox is back in form and will certainly be pushing for his maiden Ryder Cup appearance. 

Pepperell is the only player on the European Tour this week who can jump into the final spot, although he will need to finish first at the D+D Real Czech Masters if he is to do so. 

The Englishman has been in great form of late and if he were to win his second European Tour title this year, he would sneak ahead of Olesen by 0.15 points. 

This week is sure to be an exciting one on both sides of the pond, with numerous different permutations that could see the eight automatic qualifiers for Team Europe change once again.  

RELATED: Latest Team Europe Ryder Cup Rankings