Justin Rose was the main victim as Padraig Harrington confirmed his European captain’s picks for this month’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. As recently as April 2019, Rose was world number 1; he now finds himself neglected by Europe after Harrington turned to Ian Poulter, Sergio García and Shane Lowry.
“I’m really happy with my team,” said Harrington. “I am absolutely delighted. My biggest difficulty will be that I have too many good players. I have a great team, probably the best ball attacking team Europe has ever sent to a Ryder Cup. Great praise, indeed.
García and Poulter have always been seen as Harrington’s automatic picks. The last place has become a matter of great complication, linked to the automatic places in the European team sealed in the PGA Championship at Wentworth. Rose finished with a formidable 65 for a share of sixth in the qualifying final, Harrington dealing a very public blow to the 2016 Olympic gold medalist hours later. “You can only blame yourself if you don’t come in and aren’t chosen,” Rose said.
Rose has played five Ryder Cups, Europe has won three. However, his 2021 form was insufficient even for a place in the first round of the PGA Tour play-offs, which included 125 players.
Lowry, the 2019 Open champion, will make his Ryder Cup debut in Wisconsin. “He’s well suited for the course and the conditions we’re expecting,” said Harrington of his compatriot from Ireland. “His statistics are excellent, he is one of our best players. Shane has consistent good form and that has brought him to this place.
“No one considers him a rookie. Shane is a great player, he’s never better than when he’s on the big stage. It was an easy choice based on its form; he delivered for me and all the vice-captains.
Of García, Harrington said, “He’s a leader. He’s really, really leading this team. I rely on him to stand up and be a leader. He loves the Ryder Cup and all that goes with it. He enjoys the responsibility of being with the youngest. Sergio is a complete Ryder Cup player – there isn’t a member of the squad who wouldn’t want to play with him.
Poulter, an icon of the European Ryder Cup scene, was chosen 49th in the world, seven places behind Rose. Poulter missed the cut at Wentworth.
“He brings incredible passion to the team room and his games, but you can’t pick a player based on that,” Poulter’s Harrington said. “He’s played really well all year, he’s probably in the shape of his life.”
European automatic qualifiers had been confirmed as Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matt Fitzpatrick, Viktor Hovland, Lee Westwood, Bernd Wiesberger and Paul Casey. Wiesberger’s tie for 20th place in the PGA Championship was enough to seal his place. The fact that Lowry finished with a share of 17th meant Westwood held onto his automatic place by a slim margin. Westwood had struggled for a final round of 77 in Surrey, with the 48-year-old admitting the Ryder Cup scenario clouded his thoughts. With Westwood the likely captain for 2023 in Italy, the European qualifying criteria will change.
Before Harrington offered his hand, Billy Horschel had only become the second American – after the late Arnold Palmer – to win the PGA Championship. Horschel’s round of 16 saw him take the title by one ahead of Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Jamie Donaldson and Laurie Canter.
Continuing the Ryder Cup theme, Horschel admitted that inspiration resonated in a strange snub from US captain Steve Stricker. Horschel, although he won the WGC Match Play in Austin in March, was apparently not considered worthy of being contacted by Stricker when he missed a wildcard pick.
Stricker said in naming his six picks that he called out the unsuccessful ones.
“There was a little extra motivation this week,” Horschel said. “I thought I was going to get a phone call. I didn’t think it would be a phone call saying I made the team, but a phone call saying, “Hey, you had a great year, obviously we talked, but we’re going to go in a different direction. . ‘ I didn’t get that phone call I was a little upset I was a little ticked off Gave me a little fire in my ass.