Ryder Cup 2014 - European Wildcard Possible Picks
Posted at August 25, 2014
The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles is nearing ever closer so we look at the potential line up for Team Europe, focusing on the Captain's Wildcards!
The Czech Masters was a big tournament for a handful of European Ryder Cup hopefuls and it was Jamie Donaldson who eventually came up trumps - securing his automatic qualification spot with one event remaining. That win means that Jamie doesn't need to look over his shoulder for the chasing pack at the Italian Open now, however the same cannot be said for Graeme McDowell who is the current occupier of the all-important ninth automatic qualification spot.
Realistically, only Scotland's own Stephen Gallacher is the one McDowell needs to watch for in Turin. A two-way tie for second place would be good enough for Gallacher, who could only finish T7 at the Czech Masters despite looking strong heading into the weekend. Should Stephen not manage to seal a win in Italy, he will need to rely upon a wildcard pick from Europe's Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley - which is no certainty for anyone.
There will be three Wildcard picks announced on September 2nd, with the debate hotting up on Twitter as to who should and shouldn't make the team. In truth, there is a seriously strong argument for including many players in the team for Gleneagles, the front runners including:
Luke Donald -the next best player out with the qualification spots and has a wealth of Ryder Cup experience - 4 appearances in which he has contributed a total of 10.5 points with just one fourball match the solitary blemish on his record.
Stephen Gallacher - as mentioned above, can still qualify automatically but will have to excel out in Turin this week. Failing that, the Scot has somewhat 'local' knowledge on his side; he will know the track around Gleneagles better than anyone and that will couple with his form this year to provide a very strong case for his selection. Seven top ten finishes and a victory at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic solidify the argument, whilst finishing T5, T4 and T15 respectively at the three biggest events on British soil (BMW PGA, Scottish Open and the Open Championship) prove his metal on the bigger stages.
Ian Poulter - needs no introductions and probably no justification for inclusion, either. Effectively the on-course players' captain at Medinah two years ago, a Ryder Cup without Ian Poulter is almost unthinkable. An injury hampered season means he hasn't qualified automatically, but it would be a huge surprise if McGinley were to overlook this experienced Ryder Cup stalwart.
Lee Westwood - currently sits 16th in the World Points List having had a quite unspectacular season. A lack of form doesn't always make for a disastrous Ryder Cup (Martin Kaymer in 2012, for example), but there will certainly be many doubters should Westy get the nod - regardless of his presence in each of the last eight Ryder Cups. "You're only a good as your last game."
Miguel Ángel Jiménez - another on the fringe of the top 12 'form' players - currently at 13th in the World Points List. Another who has prior experience but perhaps not the most impressive points record, Jiménez was the Vice-Captain two years ago and looks more likely to assume the same role once more at Gleneagles.
In truth, we can only see the race for the Captain's Wildcard spots including Donald, Gallacher (should he not triumph in Turin), Poulter and Westwood and it will make for a very interesting press conference on September 2nd - with at least one of these men sure to be left disappointed. Stephen Gallacher is a friend of the company, former ambassador and also the current PGA professional at Kingsfield Golf Club, Linlithgow - also close partners of ours here at Golfposer - and so we are all certainly rooting for Scottish representation at Gleneagles!