European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley must be pretty happy with how his team is shaping up for Scotland at the moment, all the current top 9 players are in good form while the vast majority of those likely to be considered as Wild Card picks are putting together performances that the Irishman will surely be taking note of. While it could be problematic picking only 3 Captain’s picks to complete his side for Gleneagles the current crop of players outside of the qualification slots are providing McGinley with a welcome dilemma come the Wild Card announcement.
At the time of writing the current Top 9 in the overall European Ryder Cup standing is as follows
1. Rory McIlroy; 2. Henrik Stenson; 3. Victor Dubuisson; 4. Jamie Donaldson; 5. Sergio Garcia; 6. Justin Rose; 7. Martin Kaymer; 8. Thomas Bjorn & 9. Graeme McDowell.
The only likely change to the automatic spots would occur if Stephen Gallacher finished 2nd or better in this week’s Italian Open. If the Scotsman managed that feat then he would bump G Mac out of the Top 9 for Team Europe.
Here are some of the potential Wild Card picks available to Captain Paul McGinley:
“Poults” or “Mr Ryder Cup” as he is known about every 2 years in late September recently is starting to come back into form and will be a great addition to Team Europe as he has been since making his debut in 2004 and beyond, especially as a Wild Card pick in 2008 at Valhalla and of course in the last Ryder Cup at Medinah. He has been impressing of late after recovering from a recent injury but having said that he would probably drag his way to the first tee if it meant him playing Ryder Cup again in September! A must pick for me.
Westy is the only player apart from Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk left from the 1997 playing of the Ryder Cup at Valderrama. He has a great record in the Ryder Cup and is adept teaming up with a large variety of partners. If he is picked expect him to chaperone one of the rookies around the course on Day 1. Lee is a superb Foursomes player being one of the best drivers of the ball in golf. If he doesn’t get a pick he will likely be the unlucky 4th choice when only 3 can be picked.
The Scotsman could well be in the automatic spots on Team Europe’s Ryder Cup qualification come Sunday evening but, if not, I’m sure he will be seriously considered as a Ryder Cup Wildcard pick. He has been in good form since the qualification process started, he’s Scottish (and the nearly automatically a good bad weather golfer!) and has a great record around Gleneagles. Gallacher is also a superb putter when on form and makes lots of birdies, a very suitable Fourball player!
“Luuuuke” has been a stalwart of the recent Ryder Cup teams and boasts one of the finest Foursomes records on either team, usually with Sergio Garcia in toe! One of the best wedge players in the game and also a fine putter, he would be an excellent partner for any of the European players. His current swing changes, which have resulted in a hopefully short downturn in form, could be a consideration into whether he will be picked or not. Donald has a super record in The Ryder Cup, in Foursomes and Singles especially, and adds to the number of fine players that Captain McGinley will need to choose from.
The Italian is one of the finest tee-to-green players in golf today, his short game and putting has always stood in the way of him becoming a likely Major winning though. This has also been the case in Ryder Cups of late. Francesco is one of the few potential Ryder Cup players teeing it up at The Italian Open this week and after a good first round he could definitely make an impression of Paul McGinley with a good showing in Turin.
G Mac is almost in the team so hopefully this is not a case of commentator’s curse on my part! Graeme should make the team either way, automatically or as a Captain’s Pick, with his Ryder Cup record. Expect McDowell to be teeing it up in Gleneagles in September whatever happens.
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Dubbed the “Most Interesting Man in Golf”, Jimenez has been a great team member for Europe over the years, strangely making his Ryder Cup debut as an Assistant Captain to Seve Ballesteros in 1997 before actually making his playing debut in future years. Miguel is unlikely to get a Wild Card pick but I would expect him to get a call to be an Assistant Captain once more.
Being Irish I had to give this 3 time Major winner a mention! It’s as likely as me winning the Irish lottery this weekend as Paddy getting the call from his good buddy to play at Gleneagles but I think he will be a part of the team as an Assistant Captain and he has been making supportive noises towards that already. He will be a great part of Team Europe and I hope he will be part of Paul McGinley’s backroom team in September.
The big man from Clara, County Offaly, could well be a surprise Wild Card pick come Sunday evening in Italy. Lowry has enjoyed some great results this season and is one of the best players in the World around the greens, allied to this he has oodles of matchplay experience, is a super putter and very good buddies with Rory and G Mac (always helps!) among other on the European team I’m sure. Personally, I would very much like to see Shane teeing it up at the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles in late September!
So, these are the probables and possibles that are likely to be considered by European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley over the next few days. All thing being equal, and assuming the current Top 9 in the European Standings stays the same, I would expect McGinley to choose Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood & Stephen Gallacher as his Wild Card picks for Gleneagles. I would also expect him to add to his current Assistant Captains, Sam Torrance and Des Smyth, by asking Padraig Harrington & Miguel Angel Jimenez to be part of his backroom team.
The Ryder Cup again promises to be a superb week of golf and I can’t wait for the madness to begin on Friday 26th September in Scotland!