EUROPE’S Ryder Cup team has now been finalised, and it has to be said that Nicolas Colsaerts and Ian Poulter were absolutely the right wildcard picks in the end. Padraig Harrington ended up 19th in the points list and was ultimately too far down in the table to go, even though he has strong qualities. I would have picked both of those two as well.
Colsaerts showed huge credentials when he won the World Match Play Championship, beating Graeme McDowell, and that’s what the Ryder Cup is all about. Captain Jose Maria Olazabal has already mentioned Colsaerts’ strength as a big hitter and that can be a huge benefit, but he’s in there as a class player; he should be extremely happy with his team, because it couldn’t be any stronger.
The Medinah, where the Ryder Cup will be played, is a great course, but it’ll be set up to suit the Americans. That’s just something you have to contend with when you’re playing away from home – we do it here and they’ll do it there, though that’s not something I’ve any concerns about.
While Colsaerts is a Ryder Cup rookie, he’s ready, and you’ve got to be blooded at some time. He’s not a 21-year-old – he’s 29 and he’s an experienced boy. It’s been a meteoric rise for him because four years ago he wasn’t in the top 1000 in the world, and now he’s in the Ryder Cup team.
I’m disappointed for Harrington for missing out, of course, but I’m not disappointed for the team; at 19th he simply wasn’t close enough. Over the last three or four weeks, I think the European team has been strengthened enormously, particularly with the recent wins for Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Paul Lawrie. I think this is as strong as they can get.
If it was to be played on neutral territory I’d 100 per cent back the Europeans, but home support and home conditions are big advantages, particularly as Chicago is boisterous, so we’ll see.
Olazabal would have been through nearly everything in his head by now; all he’ll be doing is looking at his pairings. Everything else will have been arranged, and now it’s game on. I can’t wait for three weeks’ time for it to happen. As a captain, it is a relief to finish selecting the team – the hardest thing is telling the last man that you’re not picking him; I once had to tell that to Olazabal himself. Once that’s done, it’s all go.
Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer, former captain of the European team, and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam