Ryder Cup 2014: Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Stephen Gallagher named as wild card picks
Poulter, Westwood, Gallacher join automatic qualifiers Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Victor Dubuisson, Thomas Bjorn and Jamie Donaldson
Tuesday 02 September 2014
European captain Paul McGinley on Tuesday completed his Ryder Cup team for Gleneagles by naming Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Stephen Gallacher as his three wild cards.
That meant there was no place for former world number one Luke Donald as Europe look to claim an eighth win in the last 10 stagings of the biennial contest against the United States on September 26-28.
Westwood has made eight consecutive appearances since making his debut in 1997, winning 21 points from 37 matches.
The 41-year-old finished seventh in the Masters in April and won in Malaysia the following week, but suffered a slump in form until a final round of 63 in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August.
He also shared the lead after the first round of the US PGA Championship before finishing 15th, but failed to advance beyond the first FedEx Cup play-off event.
Gallacher came agonisingly close to securing an automatic place on the team by finishing third in the Italian Open on Sunday, just one shot out of the share of second place he required.
However, McGinley stayed on in Turin after missing the cut and witnessed the Scot card a flawless closing 65 to record his 10th top-10 finish of a qualifying campaign which also saw him retain his Dubai Desert Classic title in February.
Poulter has earned the nickname 'Mr Ryder Cup' and it is hard not to see why. This is the third time he has needed a wild card to make the team, but he has raised his game on every occasion and none more so than at Medinah in 2012.
The 38-year-old won all four of his matches and famously birdied the last five holes alongside Rory McIlroy to beat Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson in the Saturday fourballs. He also beat Webb Simpson in the singles to take his record to an amazing 12 wins from 15 matches.
"I'm in a privileged position in that I had a variety of choices and it says a lot about the European Tour and the standards we have now in Europe, the quality of the picks I have and how far we've come over the years for me to have such an abundance of talent to choose from," McGinley said.
"There are some real quality players who have performed incredibly well who are not going to make the team. It was a very difficult call to those guys involved but on the positive side I think we have three players that will add a lot to the nine already qualified who make the European team as strong as it needs to be to take on the might of America."
McGinley likened Gallacher's efforts in Turin to the way he put himself in position to make the Ryder Cup team back in 2004.
"I think his performance last week in Italy, under the spotlight, was huge," McGinley said. "He'll look back at that at the end of his career, whatever he goes on to achieve, as one of the highlights of his career, if not the highlight.
"I know from experience, I look back on my career as I come to the close of it now, at my performance in 2004 on the very last event to get my head in front and into the team. I look back on that as one of my proudest moments as a professional golfer, and Stevey will feel like that this morning. What he did, how he did it, all credit to him."
Ian Poulter shows off his tricks...
Asked how he felt now looking at his full line-up for the event, McGinley said: "Excitement is the word. Excitement is what I want the players to feel and there's certainly that. Stevey Gallacher, as you can imagine, I said, 'Stevey, you can go and have a drink and celebrate,' and he said 'Is that okay? Can I have a drink?' so he is taking this seriously no doubt.
"I'm very proud for him being Scottish. Again I'm lucky in that I've played a Ryder Cup in my home country so I know what it's going to feel like for Stevey and how proud he's going to be.
"Lee, despite the fact he's played so many times in the Ryder Cup, there's a real sense of pride on the phone that he made the team. He's very gracious, very humble about that fact he's going to be on this team. And well, Ian Poulter is a a bundle of energy when you speak to him, you could feel the energy coming down the phone and you could feel the excitement. They were the easy phonecalls I have to say.
"The difficult ones were made too. Francesco Molinari, I just want to mention too. He was a very serious contender. We gave him a lot of thought, a lot of consideration and, just like Luke, he was incredibly humble and incredibly accepting of my decision even though it was a very difficult call to make. I couldn't have asked for two guys to accept the decision in a better way."
Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Stephen Gallacher, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Victor Dubuisson, Thomas Bjorn and Jamie Donaldson.
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