Ian Poulter has got his wish; Team Europe’s most passionate professional has been named as one of Thomas Bjorn’s wildcards for the Ryder Cup.
The colourful Briton is no stranger to being a wildcard selection, for it was in 2012 at Medinah where Ian Poulter inspired one of golf’s greatest comebacks thanks to his selection by Jose Maria Olazabal. However, in 2014, Paul McGinley’s decision to select Poulter split opinion, as he won just a single point.
Nevertheless, Poulter’s selection will no doubt add fuel to the European fire as they look to regain the Ryder Cup on home soil following Team USA’s recent domination. If anyone on the Ryder Cup Team excels under pressure, it’s ‘Poults’.
Paul Casey, ranked 16th in the world, has also been selected. His matchplay pedigree will prove to be an asset to Bjorn’s team as they look to quell Team USA’s self-perceived invincibility, with six of the world’s top ten ranked golfers, including 1-3, spearheading the American challenge.
Casey’s selection marks a fantastic twelve-month turnaround, rejoining the European Tour in late 2017 in order to give himself a chance of making Team Europe. He shot a final-round 68 to finish T21 at the Dell Technologies Championship on Monday, and won the Valspar Championship earlier in the year, has enjoyed a strong twelve months. After the heartbreak of being overlooked by Colin Montgomerie in 2010, despite being ranked 9th in the world at the time, Casey is ready to repay Thomas Bjorn’s faith in him.
The third wildcard selection is Henrik Stenson, who has allayed fears around an elbow injury to declare himself fit and ready for Paris. Stenson, now ranked 22nd in the world, finished +1 in a tie for 69th in Boston on Monday. He beat Jordan Spieth in the singles matches at Hazeltine in 2016, so do not be surprised to see the duo go head-to-head on the Sunday again this year.
The final wildcard selection, and perhaps Bjorn’s most difficult one, is that of Sergio Garcia. The selection of the 2017 Master champion means Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Thomas Pieters miss out, the latter’s impeccable form in the 2016 Ryder Cup not enough to get him to Paris. After missing seven cuts this season, including all four at the Majors, it’s clear Bjorn has selected Garcia on his experience and pedigree, as opposed to his form and this is a risk that could prove vital come Sunday evening.
The eight automatic selections for the European Ryder Cup team are as follows:
– Francesco Molinari
– Justin Rose
– Rory McIlroy
– Tyrrell Hatton
– Tommy Fleetwood
– Alex Noren
– Thorbjorn Olesen
The 42nd Ryder Cup takes place on the Albatros Course of Le Golf National, Paris from 28th–30th of September 2018. Ian Poulter