Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal was right to ignore triple major winner Pádraig Harrington’s claims for a wildcard pick and his 12-man team is just about perfect, said former skipper Bernard Gallacher yesterday.
Olazabal picked Belgian rookie Nicolas Colsaerts and Englishman Ian Poulter as his wildcard choices on Monday for the biennial event against United States in Illinois next month.
The pair join automatic selections Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell, Peter Hanson, Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Francesco Molinari and Paul Lawrie in a powerful lineup.
“It’s a very strong side,” Gallacher said. “They are the best 12 players in Europe — it’s perfect.
“There were absolutely no surprises. Jose Maria reduced the amount of wildcard picks from three to two this time round and the strong message he gave was that he wanted the players to play their way into the team.
“That’s exactly what’s happened. Martin Kaymer was in the 10th and final automatic position, Colsaerts was number 11 and the next highest player in the world rankings not already in the side was Poulter,” said Gallacher who led Europe in 1991, 1993 and 1995.
The 63-year-old Scot echoed the sentiments of Spaniard Olazabal when he said Harrington was too low on the Ryder Cup points list — at number 19 — to be picked.
The Irishman has performed well in two of this year’s major championships, finishing fourth at the U.S. Open and eighth at the Masters, but his form has not been good enough in the regular events.
“Jose Maria has actually gone straight down the points list — those that are playing good golf have been selected and Harrington was just too far down,” said Gallacher.
“Pádraig has three majors under his belt but he’s probably tried to concentrate more on doing well in the majors rather than in regular tournaments week in, week out where you earn your Ryder Cup points.
“In a way he’s a bit unlucky there but Jose Maria gave clear signals throughout his captaincy he was going to stick very much to his qualifying list.”
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