Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 3rd 2014 Contents A58
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, September 3, 2014
VIRGINIA WATER---It was not an
easy phone call for European Ryder
Cup captain Paul McGinley---breaking
the news to Luke Donald that he was
being left off the team to face the
United States at Gleneagles this
Donald is a former No 1 who has
lifted the trophy with Europe on each
of his four Ryder Cup appearances.
But he was the big omission when
McGinley picked Stephen Gallacher,
Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter as his
three wild-card selections yesterday.
"That was a very, very difficult con-
versation---my relationship with Luke
is very close," said McGinley, who was
Donald s playing partner for the Eng-
lishman s first Ryder Cup match.
"He was very, very disappointed,
and rightly so...His record in the Ryder
Cup stands with anybody in the game."
Donald has one of the best short
games in the world and is a brilliant
putter, making him a key player in
Europe s wins in 2004, 06, 10 and
12.But he has struggled for form this
year after making changes to his swing.
Second place at the RBC Heritage in
April was his last top-30 finish on the
PGA Tour, a shadow of the player who
rose to No 1 and was the leading
money-winner on both sides of the
Atlantic in 2011.
McGinley said Donald reacted in
classy fashion when told he wasn t
"Even though you have not picked
me, I still believe you ll be a great cap-
tain," McGinley quoted him as saying.
"His last few words were: Go Europe.
I think that says a lot about Luke."
McGinley has three rookies in the
12-man team that will face the US in
Scotland from September 26-28, with
Gallacher joining Victor Dubuisson
and Jamie Donaldson.
The other players who qualified
automatically for McGinley s team
were Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson,
Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Martin
Kaymer, Thomas Bjorn and Graeme
McGinley announced his captain s
picks at European Tour headquarters
at Wentworth hours before US captain
Tom Watson was to reveal his.
McGinley said it came down to a
choice between Donald and West-
"Lee just slightly pipped him,"
For McGinley, the fact Gallacher
lives only 35 miles (56 kms) from Gle-
neagles and would be a crowd favourite
did not factor into the decision-making
"There s no doubt Stevie Gal-
lacher has proved himself and
earned his spot on this team,"
The 39-year-old Scot narrowly
missed out on automatic selection
after finishing third at the Italian
Open on Sunday. A top-two finish
would have seen him oust
McDowell as the final qualifier.
But it was Gallacher s eighth
top-10 finish in 2014, leaving him
as the form player of the four in
contention. Gallacher has played
well at Gleneagles in recent years,
losing out in a three-man playoff
at the Johnnie Walker Champi-
onship in 2013.
"Of course it s a concern to me
that he s a rookie, and it s very
difficult to pick a rookie for a
Poulter, Westwood, Gallacher
picked for Ryder Cup Ryder Cup," McGinley said. "But
I ve said all along from day one,
I m not afraid to pick a rookie if
he proves himself."
Gallacher s uncle, Bernard, cap-
tained Europe in the Ryder Cup
in 1991, 93 and 95.
"It s massive for me and my
family," Gallacher said after calling
into the news conference. "It was
a long day yesterday (waiting for
the call)...A couple of drinks set-
tled me down nicely."
Europe is defending the trophy
after its 14 1/2 - 13 1/2 win over
the United States at Medinah in
2012. Poulter, Westwood and
Donald have been stalwarts for
Europe over the past decade,
helping the team win five of the
last six cups, but haven t been in
top form this year.
Poulter usually saves his best
performances for the Ryder Cup.
He has 12 wins from 15 matches,
and is on a seven-match winning
streak---the last four coming at
the "Miracle in Medinah" when
Europe came from 10-6 down on
the final day to retain the cup.
"Ian Poulter is a bundle of ener-
gy whenever you speak to him.
You could feel the energy coming
down the phone," McGinley said.
Westwood will be playing in
his ninth straight Ryder Cup, with
his accuracy from tee to green
likely counting in his favour. He
has played well below his best for
much of 2014 but won the
Malaysian Open in April and
responded to calls from McGinley
to show some form by shooting
a final-round 63 at the Bridge-
stone Invitational last month
before finishing tied for 15th at
the PGA Championship.
"I think Paul has picked me for
my experience," Westwood said.
"I have played under eight dif-
ferent captains and pretty much
seen all it can throw at you." (AP)
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