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Stephen Gallacher: Padraig Harrington got his picks right for Whistling Straits

Shane Lowry deserved his call-up to the Ryder Cup
Shane Lowry deserved his call-up to the Ryder Cup

The European team for the Ryder Cup is complete and I think Padraig Harrington has got it right with his captain’s picks.

As I mentioned last week it has been less a strong hint and more a nailed on certainty for weeks that Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter would be in the team.

Sergio is the all-time points scorer for Europe while Poults is such an inspirational and driven figure in the team, not to mention unbeaten in singles after all these years. It would have been a bigger call to leave them out rather than select them.

Having been in a Ryder Cup team and privy to what goes into selecting captain’s picks in the past I can tell you that it is a numbers game. Every fine detail is pored over by a captain.

It is not just about who is in form, there are other factors to be considered such as their track record, whether they would fit in, who do they match-up with the guys who have qualified automatically.

Choosing a rookie, especially for a match on US soil is rare but in Shane Lowry’s case he should be regarded as an honourable exception.

He’s a major winner and has won a WGC event so we’re hardly talking about a guy who will be having to make a step up alongside a really strong US team on their own patch.

There are some who feel Justin Rose deserved to be there but we can make a list of names of those who have missed out and make a case for all of them being unlucky not to get a captain’s pick.

Justin Rose missed out on a place in the European team for the Ryder Cup.

That’s just the nature of this game. The only way to be sure of your place was to qualify automatically and unfortunately Justin came up short despite an excellent performance at Wentworth.

When it comes to the Ryder Cup a captain faces the same dilemma as a football manager in that he is looking at his squad and seeing lots of strong players yet knows he can only pick a finite number for the match. Some guys make it and some have to sit it out.

We all knew the criteria from the start.

Had Lowry qualified automatically it would have meant Lee Westwood would have relied on a captain’s pick to make the team instead and I think he would have edged Justin in making the team too.

Justin is a great player who had a great week but there are other guys such as Victor Perez and Bob MacIntyre who have been more consistent throughout the season.

What matters now is that the 12 guys who go over to Whistling Straits do so with our backing and I’m sure that will be the case.

We’re underdogs but we’ve won nine of the last 12 matches so we should be going over there with confidence. It’ll be close but if we’ve learned anything this is a match which always delivers.

 

Horschel the US Ryder Cup nearly man again

If you are feeling sorry for Justin Rose missing out on a Ryder Cup place then spare a thought for American Billy Horschel.

Horschel missed out on a captain’s pick in 2014 for Gleneagles and responded by winning the FedEx Cup.

He has missed out again this year and reacted in the best way possible by coming over the Britain and winning the PGA Championship at Wentworth, becoming only the second American behind the great Arnold Palmer to achieve the feat.

He waxed lyrical about how pleased he was to be here and has always been a great advocate for the European Tour so I know he was a popular winner.

It amazes me he isn’t in the team but I’m not going to complain about the fact he will not be facing our guys next week.

On paper Europe shouldn’t have a chance in this given how strong the US team but as we know it rarely works out that way.

There are so many in-form Americans right now that you could have picked another team of 12 players from inside the top 50 in the world rankings.

It’s genuinely remarkable how many candidates they had for Steve Stricker’s team and really illustrates how strong a team he has.

But we still seem to have that intangible quality which keeps us competitive against them.

I don’t know if our players gel better or we have the right picks, pairings or vice-captains to support our captain, but it just seems to work.

The US lads are looking good this year but don’t rule us out.

Royal Aberdeen the star of the show for Legends Tour

Scottish Senior Open winner Thomas Levet and Paul Lawrie.

While I was completing my round at Wentworth I was keeping tabs on a terrific Scottish Senior Open at Royal Aberdeen.

Paul Lawrie did a great job as tournament host and I hear the course was fantastic.

Nine under par as a winning score after three rounds shows it was a solid test and in Thomas Levet the event produced a popular winner.

The Legends Tour is really growing in stature and evolving as a place where fans can watch fantastic golf being played.

I’ve no doubt the fact Paul has committed to hosting the event again next year means we can look forward to another quality showcase.

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