I am starting to look forward with eager anticipation to the Ryder Cup. The European team is looking very strong, and Paul McGinley’s selection choice is absolutely fascinating. At present, it appears that he might have to choose three from five out of Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Stephen Gallacher and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
The nine automatically selected on current standings would be
(The top 4 in the European money list)
(The top 5 in world rankings not pre-selected through the first list)
On the European money list, the three next ranked players not in are
Miguel Angel Jimenez
On the World ranking list, the three next players not in are
Of course the current USPGA in particular and other remaining tournaments might change things, but not that much. Jamie Donaldson might slip out of last automatic spot on the European list but barring peculiar events would be saved for the team by his position on the world list. The most vulnerable automatic qualifier position looks to be that of Graeme McDowell from the world ranking. He is benefiting from the world ranking’s crediting of historic performance. He needs a good performance or two to stay in. If he slips out, on current form he is not an automatic pick. My own view is that McIlroy can play with any partner.
Westwood leads the USPGA this morning on 6 under. Only winning things now will get him an automatic slot, but I think that he is showing sufficient form for him to get a captain’s pick. That may be unlucky for Miguel Angel Jimenez, as massive experience should not be criterion for all the picks. Poulter at the moment is just short on both lists, and I think McGinley would be nuts to leave him out with his Ryder Cup record.
The crowd is Europe’s “thirteenth man” and I think that will get Stephen Gallacher a pick if needed, ahead of Donald, Jimenez or Luiten. Donald just does not have enough recent form, barring a spectacular resurgence. Jimenez would let nobody down and would be tough to leave out – and the four times he has been on the team, the team has won! But if a realistically qualified home player is available, there should always be one in the team to be roared on by the crowd. Home advantage really does lift people in sport.
There will be changes in the points tables, and form will be important in the next few weeks. I shall update these early musings closer to the selection date.