Paul McGinley's Three Musketeers
By Torleif Sorenson on 9/2/14

2014 Ryder Cup Team Europe captain Paul McGinley announced his three wildcard selections this morning at Virginia Water, England.

Stephen Gallacher, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood will go to Gleneagles in Scotland later this month.

Stephen Gallacher

The 39-year-old Scot is a native of Dechmont, West Lothian and is a nephew of previous Ryder Cup player and captain Bernard Gallacher. He won the 2013 and 2014 Dubai Desert Classic, and is ranked 10th overall in the Team Europe World points list. In fact, because he finished third at the Italian Open on Sunday, he barely missed automatically qualifying for Team Europe. But that 3rd-place finish was Gallacher's eighth top-10 finish this year — making him pretty much a no-brainer for captain McGinley, even though he is a rookie — one of three on Team Europe (Victor Dubuisson, Jamie Donaldson).

It also helps that Gallacher lives in Linlithgow, just 35 miles from Gleneagles and that he has played there numerous times. In competition, he lost in a three-man playoff at the Johnnie Walker at Gleneagles last year.

Ian Poulter

The 38-year-old Hertfordshire native ranked 12th on the Team Europe World points list and was probably going to be a wildcard selection anyway, based in part on winning 12 of 15 Ryder Cup matches. He was one of Europe's heros at Medinah two years ago, when the visitors stormed back from a 10-6 deficit Saturday night to shock the United States — and the rest of the golf world.

But Poulter has been awfully hard on himself and displeased with his play; clearly he wanted to make the team on points. In one Twitter post, he said he was "beyond angry" that he wasn't able to make a move on Sunday at the Italian Open.

Nevertheless, McGinley chose Poulter, who publicly expressed his thanks and his sympathy for his fellow European competitors who missed out on playing:


Lee Westwood

The 41-year-old from Nottinghamshire was actually 16th on the Team Europe World points list and has only won the Malaysian Open in the last year. But a solo seventh at Augusta and a T-15, along with his consistent ball-striking, tipped the scales in his favor. Westwood also responded to a challenge by McGinley to play well at the WGC-Bridgestone, where he shot a Sunday 63. This will be Westwood's ninth Ryder Cup appearance.

What is interesting is that the former #1-ranked Luke Donald was not. Donald has had a tough season; his last U.S. top-30 finish was at Hilton Head in April, when he finished second. He missed the cut at Augusta National and the U.S. Open, finished 38th at the Players, finished T-64 at the Open Championship, then T-40 at the PGA last month — not enough to make the team. McGinley said as much to the press:

"That was a very difficult conversation — my relationship with him is very close. He was very, very disappointed and rightly so. He is a former world No. 1, his record in the Ryder Cup stands with anybody in the game.

"He said, 'You know, Paul, I publicly backed you to be the captain. Even though you haven't picked me, I still believe you'll be a great captain.' His last two words were 'Go Europe.' That says a lot about him."

U.S. captain Tom Watson will announce his three selections this evening at 7:00 p.m. ET.

 

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