It’s 28 days until the greatest contest in golf and this time round the biennial will take place in the home of golf. This year will be the 40th playing of the marquee event and it is being played at Gleneagles, Auchterarder, Scotland. This is a highly significant site for the match as a tournament was held here which became the Ryder Cup. I will go into more detail on the history of the tournament nearer the time but for now we have more important things to cover.
For those who may not know, to qualify for the Ryder Cup you gather points (given in reference to your finishing positions in tournaments) throughout the year. Although Europe and the USA pick teams in a slightly different manner this is the crux of both selections. Once the ‘automatic’ picks are made each captain is allowed to make three wildcard picks. This for me is where Captain Paul McGinley’s job becomes both very difficult and interesting.
The Italian Open will be played on the European Tour this week. This is the final event that players can gain points and after that it will all be down to the captain’s choice. As it stands it looks as thought three of Europe’s most notable Ryder Cup competitors will not be playing unless they get picks. Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter are all struggling this year and have not gained enough points. Normally I would say that it’s a no-brainer and they should have spots but this year I think things are different.
Firstly, none of these players are playing well enough. Now, in saying that, they are all well experienced and in these events previous form can often be ignored. Ian Poulter is certainly a modern-day Colin Montgomerie in that he seems to come alive during the Ryder Cup. On this basis I would like to see him there. I would also like to see Lee Westwood there. Although he has struggled this year he has played well at times and it seems like good form isn’t far away. Luke Donald, for me, is a no go for now unfortunately.
Secondly, there are some European players who have been great this year and I think deserve a shot. Stephen Gallacher and Marc Warren are the best chances of representation from Scotland. Of course at least one home player would be nice. Both have recorded one victory on the tour this year along with a few top-10 finishes. Joost Luiten is another player who has stepped up this year. The Dutchman has had one of his best years on tour and is definitely one to consider for McGinley.
Finally, the curveball. The genuine wildcard, Bernard Langer. The first ever official golf world number one has had an absolutely stunning year on the Senior’s Tour. He has one five events in 2014 two of which have been major championships. He won the Senior Open Championship by an astounding 13 strokes! His golf is so good that many have suggested that he get a pick. I really do not think this will happen, it would take a brave captain to pick a senior but he certainly must have given McGinley some food for thought.
Ideally I would like to see the picks as Westwood, Poulter and Gallacher. However, this is all down to Mr McGinley and I’m sure he has already had some sleepless nights considering his options. If we win again then all will be ok and his picks will not be questioned, however a loss always brings post-mortem analysis and I just hope he makes the correct choices. Good luck Paul!
Image credit: Bleacherreport.com