Tuesdayis the day when we’ll finally know all 24 men that will compete in the 2014 Ryder Cup. After Sunday, we knew 18 with the nine automatic European qualifiers settled after the Italian Open. Nine Americans had already been named to captain Tom Watson’s team after the PGA Championship.
At Ryder Cup host site Gleneagles in Scotland, European team captain Paul McGinley will first make his three wild-card picks at noon Eastern time. The Irishman has what could easily be considered an embarrassment of riches to pick from, forced to leave off at least one player who truly deserves a spot on the 12-man team either because of their current form or Ryder Cup history.
But we at Golf News Net believe McGinley will pick Scot Stephen Gallacher and Englishmen Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood to fill out his squad. Here’s why:
- Stephen Gallacher has finished T-7 and third in his last two European Tour starts, playing like a guy who desperately wants to represent the host country in the matches. He supports the European Tour, which has half ownership stake in the Ryder Cup. He deserves the pick and it’s good politics.
- Ian Poulter is 12-3-0 in Ryder Cup history. He’s won 80 percent of his Ryder Cup matches. That’s ridiculous. Until he has a bad Ryder Cup or two in a row, he’s on the team.
- Lee Westwood doesn’t lose very often in fourballs matches. He’s 8-4-2 in his Ryder Cup career in the format. Considering the Europeans dug themselves quite a hole over the first two days at Medinah in 2012, that expertise — particularly when teamed with Sergio Garcia — could be a huge asset.
Then, at 6 p.m. Eastern, American captain Tom Watson makes his picks, which we believe will be Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson. Here’s why:
- Keegan Bradley went 3-1 in the 2012 matches, dominating with Phil Mickelson as partner. It could be argued that Bradley should have played all five sessions. A pair of T-4 finishes before the PGA Championship likely secured his spot as being in good-enough form.
- Hunter Mahan managed to win The Barclays to salvage what otherwise would have been considered a lackluster season. The win at Ridgewood was the culmination of three consecutive strong tournaments. He’s become a regular captain’s pick and, more importantly, knows the pain of two consecutive close American losses.
- Webb Simpson seems kind of the default third pick here. By his standards, he hasn’t been all that great this season, but has top-10 finishes in two of his last three starts. He could be a good partner for Bubba Watson, who could easily get frazzled in a road game.