Sport Golf

Sunday 18 February 2018

Automatic picks

Lee Westwood (Eng)

Age: 37

Seventh Ryder Cup

Record: P29, W14, L10, H5

THE most formidable Ryder Cup campaigner in Monty's team, Westwood's prospects of being fit for Celtic Manor are threatened by a calf muscle tear. Equalled Arnie Palmer's record of 12 consecutive Ryder Cup matches without a defeat on Friday at Valhalla, but was then 'rested' on Saturday morning by Nick Faldo in probably the most damaging of several controversies sparked by the bungling European captain in Kentucky.


Age: 21

First Ryder Cup

ALL eyes will be on the Holywood hotshot as he makes his Ryder Cup debut, even if the kid caused consternation last year by describing the biennial showdown with the States as an "exhibition". McIlroy will play with good pal Graeme McDowell in Wales after they brilliantly spearheaded the Vivendi Trophy victory by Paul McGinley's GB&I team over Europe in Paris last autumn, when both won four points out of five.


Age: 25

First Ryder Cup

HAILED as the new Bernhard Langer in the wake of his superlative US PGA victory, Kaymer showed he's made of the right stuff when he sank at 15-foot putt at the last to force his way into sudden death at Whistling Straits and then ground down Bubba Watson over three holes. The German hasn't played in Seve or Vivendi Trophies and is largely unproven at match play, but has the psyche for success at the Manor.


Age: 31

Second Ryder Cup

Record: P4, W2, H1, L1

AFTER showing his true class with June's sensational victory at the US Open, McDowell hopes to follow up on an impressive Ryder Cup debut at Valhalla by playing a more influential role for Monty at Celtic Manor, especially after his spectacular Welsh Open win there this summer. The Portrush hero loves team golf and revels in the cut and thrust of match play, while his partnership with McIlroy is a pairing made in heaven.


Age: 34

Third Ryder Cup

Record: P7, W5, L2, H0

CONTROVERSY surrounded Poulter's wild card for Valhalla after he'd passed up the opportunity to play his way onto the team at Gleneagles. Yet the Englishman was Europe's best player, contributing four points (out of five) to a losing cause, in the process forging a neat partnership with Justin Rose. Accenture Match Play champ Poulter, a Ryder Cup debutant in 2004, should be a pillar of strength at The Manor.


Age: 29

First Ryder Cup

IRISH OPEN champion Fisher showed his acumen as a match player by winning last October's Volvo World Championship in Spain, bouncing back from a first-day defeat against Lee Westwood to record victories over Jeev Milkha Singh, Camilo Villegas, Angel Cabrera and US ace Anthony Kim. As a team player, Fisher proved his mettle by winning three matches out of five for GB&I at the 2009 Vivendi Trophy.


Age: 27

First Ryder Cup

TEAMED UP with elder brother Edoardo to complete a famous World Cup victory for Italy at Mission Hills last November, Molinari is a phenomenal performer from tee to green but would have far more than a solitary European Tour victory (at the Italian Open in 2006) had he been more consistent with the putter. Yet his form with the flat iron certainly wasn't too shabby over the past week at Gleneagles, especially from long range.


Age: 32

First Ryder Cup

A massively impressive effort by Hanson last Sunday when he clinched his second Tour win of the season, and fourth of his career, at the Czech Open to ensure he would make his Ryder Cup debut at Celtic Manor. After dashing home from the US PGA to accept a last-minute invite to play in the Czech Republic, the Swede underscored his mental toughness by completing a dramatic sudden-death victory over Peter Lawrie and Gary Boyd.


Age: 46

Fourth Ryder Cup

Record: P7, W1, L5, H1

ONE of the most popular figures in European golf, Jimenez jokes that "like a fine Rioja, I get better with age." That certainly appears to be the case as his two victories this year, in Dubai and France, boosted the Spaniard's haul on Tour to 17, with no fewer than 11 of them won since he turned 40. After his Ryder Cup debut at Brookline in 1999, Jimenez played in Detroit (2004) and Valhalla (2008) so Celtic Manor will be his first home match.

The Wildcards


Age: 32

Third Ryder Cup

Record: P7, W5, L1, H1

GIVEN a wild card by Bernhard Langer in 2004, Donald now gets picked by Monty despite playing The Barclays instead of Gleneagles. Ruled out of Valhalla by injury, Donald recently completed his first Tour victory in more than four years at the Madrid Masters. He has four wins out of four at foursomes but even if Donald was third at the Welsh Open, he could struggle for length if Celtic Manor is cold and wet.


Age: 29

First Ryder Cup

JUSTICE was seen to be done when Monty gave Molinari a wild card after the Italian clinched his second victory in Scotland this season during an intriguing head-to-head battle with young brother Franceso at Gleneagles yesterday. These two will forge a fine partnership at Celtic Manor. Edoardo also made the cut in all four Majors in 2010 and finished fourth in the Welsh Open at Celtic Manor. The Molinaris are the first brothers to play at the same Ryder Cup since Bernard and Geoffrey Hunt in 1963.


Age: 39 tomorrow

Sixth Ryder Cup

Record: P21, W7, L11, H3.

HARRINGTON made this pick a lot more difficult for Monty than it should have been. Though criticised for not trying to copperfasten his place at the Czech Open or Gleneagles, the real problem was the Dubliner's inconsistent form, especially as he missed the cut in three of four Majors this season. Yet, despite winning just half a point at each of the last two Ryder Cups, Harrington's class and experience made it impossible to leave him out.

Irish Independent

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