- Alistair Tait
A changing of the Ryder Cup guard?
Wouldn’t you love to see Robert MacIntyre in a European Ryder Cup uniform this September? How about Rasmus Hojgaard? Viktor Hovland? Victor Perez? Who’s projecting Matthias Schwab or Marcus Kinhult or Sami Valimaki to make the European team that travels to Whistling Straits?
I just hope Padraig Harrington has written his ideal 12 players in pencil, because he might be erasing a few names throughout this summer.
Harrington will be casting his eyes over potential rookies this week in Abu Dhabi, as Europe’s top stars return to the fairways in the $8 million Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Wonder if Harrington will do as previous captains have done and ask to be paired with potential Ryder Cup rookies. It’ll be interesting to see the draw for the opening two rounds in Abu Dhabi.
It’s hard to predict what the European Team will look like eight months from now. As it stands, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Perez, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Bernd Wiesberger, Tyrrell Hatton, Danny Willett and Lee Westwood occupy the nine automatic spots with Harrington having three wild car picks. That’s sure to change over the coming months with points increasing this year.
Perhaps the only thing we can predict is Ian Poulter will be in the line-up. In fact, I heard a rumour the European Tour was thinking of changing the selection process to 11 captain’s picks to join Poulter at Whistling Straits.
Okay, I made that last bit up, but you can probably bet your mortgage on Poults being in the team. Pretty sure you can bank on McIlroy, Rahm, Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia being in the lineup too. I was sceptical when Garcia was chosen as a wild card pick in 2018, but the Spaniard proved me wrong. Like Poulter, there’s something about the Ryder Cup which stirs his heart. Pretty sure Harrington will pick him unless he’s having an absolute mare of a slump.
However, what about members of the last Ryder Cup team who’ve been such stalwarts for European teams? It seems hard at the moment to imagine Francesco Molinari reuniting his partnership with Fleetwood, considering the Italian has gone missing in inaction over the last year or so. What about Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey? There have to be question marks hanging over their heads for this Ryder Cup.
New blood in a Ryder Cup isn’t bad . While the 2016 team at Hazeltine lost featuring six rookies, the 2010 team won at Celtic Manor with six newcomers. Remember “there’s only two Molinaris.” Remember when Phillip Price took down Phil Mickelson at The Belfry? How about Nicolas Colsaerts at Medinah or Thomas Bjorn at Valderrama? How about MacIntyre going head to head with Dustin Johnson? I'd love to see that match up. Bet the left hander would too.
Mind you, with home field advantage coming more into play in recent years, Harrington’s going to need 12 players with their A games if he wants to make his one and only stint as Ryder Cup captain a successful one.
Who’s in your team?
#JustSaying: “Out of the shadows come heroes.” Sam Torrance