Ryder Cup’s big players on form

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poulter AFP Europe's Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter has received the all-clear on his wrist and will compete in the British Open. Photo: Paul Lakatos

Shenzhen, China – Ryder Cup legend Ian Poulter believes Europe’s key Ryder Cup players are coming into form just at the right time for September’s clash against the United States at Gleneagles in Scotland.

The hero of the “Miracle in Medinah” two years ago and Europe’s win in Wales in 2010 told reporters in China on Wednesday the continent would have a “great team” for the biennial event.

“I think (captain) Paul McGinley will be fairly happy with the players that are coming into form right now,” the Englishman said ahead of his tilt at the $3.2 million China Open in Shenzhen, starting on Thursday.

“Several months back, I guess the team looked very different on paper but as we all always know world-class players generally play well when it gets to the majors and we’ve obviously got a few of those (coming up).

“Luke Donald is playing very well, Sergio (Garcia) is playing well, (Lee) Westwood has just won and there are a number of guys who played in the last Ryder Cup who are coming to form,” he said.

England’s Donald – a former world number one – was desperately unlucky to miss out on winning the RBC Heritage in South Carolina on Sunday, being pipped into second place by American Matt Kuchar who chipped in from a bunker on the last hole.

Spain’s Garcia – a Ryder Cup stalwart over the last decade – is ranked eighth in the world and is enjoying a rich vein of form.

The talented ball striker won the Commercialbank Qatar Masters in January and has another three top ten finishes already in 2014.

Westwood performed impressively at the Masters earlier in April, finishing seventh, before winning the Maybank Malaysian Open in style at the weekend. The English player triumphed by seven shots for his 40th career win.

Poulter sits fifth on the points list to make the 12-man European side and said he was focusing on big tournaments in the coming months to ensure his qualification for the team showpiece.

“I'm there or thereabouts,” he said at Genzon Golf Club.

“There’s a long time between now and September to make the side. We’ve still got three majors to go, we’ve got WGC events, a couple of the biggest events to go in Europe as well.

“It’s a long season and there’s lots of tournaments that I’m focusing on for qualification purposes.

“I think the team will slowly take shape over the summer, and yet again come September it’s going to be two great teams fighting it out to get their hands on that fabulous trophy.”

Nine qualification places are up for grabs, with McGinley picking the final three players. France’s Victor Dubuisson is in the top spot with Jamie Donaldson of Wales in second.

Double major winner Rory McIlroy and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who won both the Race to Dubai and the FedEx Cup in an astonishing 2013 season, are in other automatic positions.

Europe will be defending the Ryder Cup from September 23-28 after their heroics at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois in 2012.

The Europeans went into the final day of singles needing eight-and-half points to win. They won their first five matches which included a stirring victory by Poulter before taking the other points needed to win.

Europe also triumphed in 2010 at Celtic Manor, with Poulter again proving inspirational. – Sapa-AFP


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