Team Europe skipper Padraig Harrington turned to two Ryder Cup stalwarts as he named Spain's Sergio Garcia and England's Ian Poulter for this month's match against the United States.
By Martyn Herman
Team Europe skipper Padraig Harrington turned to two Ryder Cup stalwarts as he named Spain's Sergio Garcia and England's Ian Poulter along with Ireland's Shane Lowry as his three 'picks' for this month's match against the United States.
Irishman Harrington named his picks a few hours after England's Lee Westwood, Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton had sealed their spots at the BMW PGA Championship along with Austrian Bernd Wiesberger who will make his debut.
Spaniard Jon Rahm, Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, England's Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood plus first-time participant Viktor Hovland of Norway had already secured spots on the 12-man team for the Sept. 24-26 event at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin.
The Ryder Cup, a biennial team competition between the United States and Europe, was postponed last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Europe are defending champions after a seven-point rout at Le Golf National near Paris in 2018.
TEAM EUROPE 🇪🇺👊 pic.twitter.com/QVSBYz7R7x— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) September 12, 2021
Garcia, Europe's all-time leading Ryder Cup points scorer, and the inspirational Poulter, nicknamed the Postman for his knack of delivering crucial points, were hardly a surprise.
That left Harrington with the tough choice between 2019 Open champion Lowry, who failed to land an automatic spot, and England's Justin Rose, a veteran of five matches.
Rose would have had to win the PGA Championship at Wentworth on Sunday to seal one of the nine automatic places but finished in a tie for sixth after a storming final round.
"I am absolutely thrilled with my team. With all of our picks we have the strongest 10, 11 and 12 we've ever had," Harrington said after making his final decision.
On selecting Poulter, who is undefeated in singles matches in his six previous appearances, Harrington said: "He lifts himself, he lifts his partners, he lifts the team.
"I'm getting a player who is in probably the best form of his life. He consistently motivates people around him. That's so important to the team. I know I have players who are good enough to deliver and Poulter is at the heart of our team."
On his 10th appearance, Garcia, who has contributed 25.5 points as part of six triumphant European teams, said: "It feels amazing. It's been a good year but I fell just a little short of making it by myself but I'm happy to have the confidence of the captains. It's an amazing team and we'll be ready."
Lowry, one of three European rookies, said it was a relief to get a pick after falling short of earning a place on merit.
"It's amazing, it's been a career-long goal to get to the Ryder Cup," he told Sky Sports. "For me Padraig being the captain is extra special for me as I'm very good friends with him. It's been a stressful week and a stressful few hours."
Poulter said it had been "emotional" to receive the call from Harrington, adding: "I'm excited, I'm proud. I will try and hole the putts to bring as many points as I can to this team."
The U.S. team, named by captain Steve Stricker this week, has six rookies including Olympic champion Xander Schauffele plus Harris English, Daniel Berger, Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay and British Open winner Collin Morikawa.
Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Tony Finau complete the team. (Additional reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)