Golf Comment: This is as strong a Europe side as we’ve ever seen

Sam Torrance
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TO HAVE a Scot on Europe’s Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles is a great asset as the crowd will love it, and Stephen Gallacher’s selection as one of captain Paul McGinley’s three wildcard picks is certainly a wonderful story, but let’s be clear: he has thoroughly earned his place in the side and sentiment didn’t come into the decision.

The fact is that Gallacher’s recent form is as good as anyone’s. He put in a magnificent performance at the Italian Open last week, where he missed out on automatic qualification for the team by a single stroke, and finished just one point behind Graeme McDowell on the world points list – a fantastic effort for someone playing only on the European Tour and not the PGA Tour, where big points are available.

Form was just one of the factors that Paul, myself and Des Smyth, the other vice-captain, discussed on Monday before the selections were finalised, but we all agreed that Stephen, the nephew of former European Ryder Cup skipper Bernard Gallacher, and Ian Poulter had to be in the 12-man side to defend the trophy against the United States later this month.

Poulter’s Ryder Cup pedigree makes him virtually impossible to leave out. The Englishman’s fighting spirit is beyond belief and he too only narrowly missed out on qualifying for an automatic place. His inclusion left Lee Westwood, Francesco Molinari and Luke Donald all vying for the one remaining spot.

Westwood ultimately got the nod. He’s shown a bit of form lately and has always been a rock in any Ryder Cup team. He is a great floater, by which I mean that he can be paired with anyone in either fourballs or foursomes, and that is a major asset.

Donald has been a fantastic team member in four successful previous appearences and will understandably be disappointed to miss out this time. The fact that a former world No1 such as Donald cannot get into the European team just illustrates how much strength in depth there currently is on this side of the pond.

We really do have a wealth of talent and, with four of the world’s current top five players, I believe this is as strong a side as Europe has fielded in Ryder Cup history.

Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer, one of Europe’s current vice-captains, and a media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam