Gleneagles, Scotland: England’s Ian Poulter and Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium were named by captain Jose Maria Olazabal yesterday as Europe’s two wildcard picks for next month’s Ryder Cup.
World No 26 Poulter and 35th-ranked Colsaerts join 10 automatic selections in the 12-man team for holders Europe for the September 28-30 match against the United States at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois.
“Every one of you pretty much guessed Ian was going to be there. That was not a difficult pick because he has a great Ryder Cup record and he’s playing well,” Olazabal told a news conference here.
“He had some issues earlier this season when he got ill and couldn’t play as much as he wanted. But his attitude and his spirit in the Ryder Cup has always been great and he is a player that likes to be in that environment.
“It gets the best out of him. At Valhalla in 2008 and at Celtic Manor in 2010 you didn’t need to motivate him. Just by looking into his eyes you could tell he was going to give everything he had,” added Olazabal, an assistant captain in the last two editions of the biennial team event.
The 29-year-old Colsaerts, one of the longest hitters on the tour, will become the first Belgian to play in the Ryder Cup.
“Nicolas is going to be the only rookie in an experienced team but his match play record is very good — he won the World Match Play Championship in Spain this year,” said Spaniard Olazabal.
There was no place in the team for triple major winner Padraig Harrington of Ireland, who failed to qualify for this year’s World Golf Championship tournaments, the events that are one rung down from the four majors.
“I talked to the next few guys on the points list — David Lynn, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Alvaro Quiros and Padraig,” said Olazabal.
“I made those phone calls and it wasn’t easy. They were disappointed not to make the team but they all took my decision well.
“Padraig played well at the US Masters, finishing eighth, he also had a good US Open [fourth] and a good Irish Open [seventh] but he is 19th on the points list and he was just a little bit too far down.”
On Sunday, Scotland’s Paul Lawrie marked the official confirmation of his return to the European Ryder Cup team after 13 years with a resounding four-shot victory in the Johnnie Walker Championship.
The 43-year-old, who started the final round leading by a stroke, shot a final-round 68 to finish with a 16-under 272 total on the rain-softened PGA National Course at Gleneagles that will host the 2014 Ryder Cup.