Poulter, Westwood and Gallacher make European Ryder Cup team

Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has announced his three wildcard picks for the prestigious golfing tournament that begins on September 26th. Scotsman Stephen Gallacher and English duo Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood were the names called out in the press conference.

McGinley, whose team are odds-on favourites at 4/6 (an industry top price at Coral) to beat the USA (13/8) and Gleanegles, has added the trio to his line-up. Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Victor Dubuisson, Jamie Donaldson, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Thomas Bjorn and Graeme McDowell qualified automatically.

Poulter and Westwood were members of the victorious team that memorably fought back against the odds two years ago in Medinah for the last Ryder Cup, while Gallacher will be making his debut.

“I am in a very privileged position,” said Irishman McGinley. “I had a variety of choices. It says a lot about the standard in Europe and how far we’ve come for me to have this abundance of talent to choose from.

“I am a very lucky man. Some real quality players haven’t made the team. It was a very difficult call. But on the positive side I think we have three players that will add a lot and make the European team as strong as it can be to take on the might of the Americans.”

On his choice of picking Stephen Gallacher, world number 33, the captain added: “His performance last week in Italy under the spotlight was huge.

“Stephen Gallacher’s first words when I told him were ‘that’s brilliant wee man’. Of course it’s a concern for me to pick a rookie, but Stephen Gallacher has proved himself and earned his spot in this team. As a rookie you have to earn a little bit more to earn a pick. And I think Stevie did more than a little bit more. His performance last week had a huge effect on me. He really had to go some and he did.”

McGinley, on his English picks, meanwhile, said of the duo after they heard the news: “With Lee, there was a real sense of pride he had made another team, very gracious and very humble, and Ian Poulter is a bundle of energy, you can feel the energy coming down the phone.”

Medinah hero Poulter, who will be taking part in his fifth Ryder Cup (winning 12 out of 15 points overall) tweeted: “The Ryder Cup means a lot to me. I’m absolutely thrilled. I guarantee I will be ready. I can’t wait to be at Gleneagles.”

Westwood who is to play in his ninth successive Ryder Cup (winning 21 out of 37 points), posted on Twitter: “The Ryder Cup has been a massive part of my career. I’m delighted to be representing Europe again.”

One notable omission from the team was another Englishman, Luke Donald. McGinley explained: “It was a very difficult conversation with him for a number of reasons. My relationship with Luke is very close. He has played in every Ryder Cup I’ve been involved in apart from 2008 which we both missed.

“I’ve partnered Luke twice in 2004 and 2006 and vice-captained him in 2010 and 12. I forged a very strong relationship with him. His Ryder Cup record is outstanding and he will no doubt go on to make many more appearances in the Ryder Cup. It was a difficult call but one I had to do in the interests of the European team.”

“He was very disappointed. He is a former number one in the world. The first ever shot he hit in the Ryder Cup I was his partner.

“He told me he publicly backed me to be the captain. Even though I hadn’t picked him he told me he backed me and his last words were ‘Go Europe’. I think that says a lot about Luke. He wasn’t expecting [to be left out]. He was very disappointed.”