It may end up being my bias showing but I’ve got a pretty good feeling about this Europe team for the Ryder Cup.
Luke Donald has made his decision and it looks to me as if he had five of his captain’s picks already pencilled in before Monday’s announcement.
The three experienced campaigners of Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and Shane Lowry were always going to be there, while Sepp Straka and Ludvig Aberg were the other two I fancied strongly.
That left one place on the team and Nicolai Hojgaard has taken it ahead of Adrian Meronk and Yannik Paul.
With three rookies among his six captain’s picks, I think it’s been hugely unfair to the captain to question his selection process when putting together a team to face the Americans.
Aberg worthy of being fast-tracked
With Bob MacIntyre booking his automatic spot at the Omega European Masters on Sunday, the first thought in Luke’s head would have been: ‘Who is in form?’
That’s always a strong consideration in the build-up to the match – and in Aberg and Hojgaard, it certainly applies to both.
There is a reason why Aberg is set to make history by being the youngest player in Ryder Cup history.
The Swede is a phenomenon, a player destined for huge things in the game.
His record is comparable to that of Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland at the same stage of their respective careers.
It may look as if he is being fast-tracked into the side, but I can assure you this lad is the real deal.
He only turned professional in June, but his form has been fabulous and he won the European Masters title in Sunday in only his ninth pro start.
In hindsight, it is a surprise it took him so long.
Aberg led the PGA Tour University standings as an amateur. This is not a guy who has flown under the radar. His trajectory has been clear for all to see.
Remember Luke effectively laid down the gauntlet, too, by challenging Aberg to come to the DP World Tour and make it impossible to leave him out.
A tied-fifth finish and now a first win adds up to that box being ticked emphatically.
He took a high pressure situation and revelled in it.
The other new kids on the block
While Aberg took the headlines in the Swiss mountains, we should not forget Hojgaard finished in the top five at Crans, too.
In a tight race, it has probably been enough to edge out Meronk, who himself had a potential ace up his sleeve by having won the Italian Open at Marco Simone – this year’s Ryder Cup venue – earlier in the season.
Add in Sepp Straka and you have a player who has won a PGA Tour title this year and finished seventh in the world points list.
That’s how fine the margins were in the final weeks of the qualifying process and unfortunately there are always going to be guys who miss out.
Meronk, Nicolai’s twin brother Rasmus Hojgaard, Paul, Victor Perez, Alex Noren and Matt Wallace are the guys who come into this category.
The experienced trio of picks
Shane Lowry’s inclusion alongside Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood is arguably the biggest source of debate, but I can see why Luke picked him.
Shane has not had the best season by his own standards.
However, he remains a big time player. We’re talking about a former Open champion and WGC winner who boasts experience from being in the side two years ago at Whistling Straits.
Edoardo Molinari, one of the vice-captains, is a renowned statistical obsessive and he is so good he even has other professionals coming to him while he is still playing himself.
He will have gone through potential fourballs and foursomes pairings with a fine toothcomb to give Luke every possible nugget of information could hope to have at his fingertips.
Revisiting the Hero Cup event from January makes for interesting viewing now with four members of the Great Britain and Ireland team joined by two members of the Continental Europe side from the match in making up half of the Europe team for the Ryder Cup.
That tells me not only is it a worthwhile exercise, but also an excellent early chance for future European captains to run the rule over potential members of their team.
Now we wait
With the two teams now in place, I only wish the Ryder Cup was happening this week.
It seems unfair to have to wait until the end of the month for all the drama to unfold, but I can tell this is going to be a fascinating encounter.
The United States, despite not having won on European soil for 30 years, are favourites.
That’s a remarkable point to consider, but I like the make-up of this new-look European team.
It feels like a transitional period for the team – but it is no less exciting and I really fancy our chances in Rome.
I know our guys are heading out to Italy after the Irish Open to practise together next week, while the Americans have also made plans to visit together.
Both team captains are putting the work in and I think we could be in for something truly special later this month.