Captain Thomas Bjorn opted for experience in completing his Ryder Cup roster for Team Europe on Wednesday.
Bjorn selected Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey as his four captain’s picks. The quartet collectively boasts 20 combined previous Ryder Cups, which Bjorn is counting on to help balance out the five rookies among Team Europe’s eight automatic qualifiers.
The four will join Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Thorbjorn Olesen, Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood and Alex Noren.
Notable names not on Team Europe for next month’s event at Le Golf National in Paris include Rafa Cabrera-Bello, who narrowly missed out on an automatic spot on the team and is coming off a seventh-place finish at the Dell Technologies Championship on Monday. Big-hitting Belgian Thomas Pieters, who went 4-0-1 as a Ryder Cup rookie in 2016 and is coming off a strong showing at the PGA Championship, also did not get the call, nor did Russell Knox, who won the Irish Open in July.
Also not on the team are Englishmen Matt Wallace, who has three victories in his past 15 starts on the European Tour but has yet to compete in a Ryder Cup, and Matthew Fitzpatrick, whose run at an automatic spot also fell just short.
“It’s not been the easiest (of decisions), but it’s a privileged situation for me to be in having that many to choose from,” Bjorn said. “There were a couple of disappointed people on the phone, but it’s about the four that made it (on picks) and the eight that made it on merit.”
The Ryder Cup will begin Sept. 28.
Bjorn is making a gamble on Garcia, who missed the cut at all four majors this season, and Stenson, who has been dealing with an elbow injury and has broken 70 only three times in 20 rounds at Le Golf National.
However, each of the four wild card selections has won at least half of his career Ryder Cup matches.
“All four bring loads of experience and loads of points won and are great for the team room,” Bjorn told reporters in London. “You need people like that, who have been there and done it, positively and negatively.”
Garcia has only one top-10 finish since March, but it did come at Le Golf National. He will be making his ninth Ryder Cup appearance.
“He’s the heartbeat of the team,” Bjorn said. “It’s like a football team going in without their captain.
“Not only is he a fantastic player, but what he also brings is he makes everyone around him better. He is what’s great about the European team room.”
Poulter has enjoyed several memorable Ryder Cup moments, particularly with his putter. He returns to the team after failing to qualify for the 2016 event, which Team Europe lost at Hazeltine in Chaska, Minn. He is undefeated in singles in his Ryder Cup career and is 14-4 overall.
“It’s an extremely strong U.S. team,” Poulter said, “but when you look at the European team on paper, I am getting goosebumps just talking about it.”
Casey joins his fourth Ryder Cup team, and his first since 2008. He gave up his European membership after failing to earn a wild card in 2010, but rejoined the tour last year with a goal of participating in the Ryder Cup.
Olesen, Rahm, Hatton, Fleetwood and Noren will be making their Ryder Cup debuts.
United States captain Jim Furyk will announce his final captain’s pick after this week’s BMW Championship.
Team Europe has not lost on home soil in 25 years.
–Field Level Media