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In Pictures: Europe's Ryder Cup team

By Karl MacGinty

Published 30/08/2010

<b>Lee Westwood (England)</b><br />
Age: 37 <br />
Seventh Ryder Cup<br />
Record: P29, W14, L10, H5<br />
The most formidable Ryder Cup campaigner in Monty's team, Westwood's prospects of being fit for Celtic Manor are threatened by a calf muscle tear. Equalled Arnie Palmer's record of 12 consecutive Ryder Cup matches without a defeat on Friday at Valhalla, but was then 'rested' on Saturday morning by Nick Faldo in probably the most damaging of several controversies sparked by the bungling European captain in Kentucky
Lee Westwood (England)
Age: 37
Seventh Ryder Cup
Record: P29, W14, L10, H5
The most formidable Ryder Cup campaigner in Monty's team, Westwood's prospects of being fit for Celtic Manor are threatened by a calf muscle tear. Equalled Arnie Palmer's record of 12 consecutive Ryder Cup matches without a defeat on Friday at Valhalla, but was then 'rested' on Saturday morning by Nick Faldo in probably the most damaging of several controversies sparked by the bungling European captain in Kentucky
Rory McIlroy
Martin Kaymer (Germany)
Age: 25
First Ryder Cup
Hailed as the new Bernhard Langer in the wake of his superlative US PGA victory, Kaymer showed he's made of the right stuff when he sank at 15-foot putt at the last to force his way into sudden death at Whistling Straits and then ground down Bubba Watson over three holes to claim his first Major title. The German hasn't played in Seve or Vivendi Trophies and is largely unproven at match play, but has shown he has the psyche for Ryder Cup success at the Manor
Graeme McDowell (Northern |Ireland)
Age: 31
Second Ryder Cup
Record: P4, W2, H1, L1
After showing his true class with June's sensational victory at the US Open, McDowell hopes to follow up his impressive Ryder Cup debut at Valhalla by playing a more influential role for Monty at Celtic Manor, especially after his spectacular Welsh Open win there this summer. The Portrush hero revels in the cut and thrust of match play, while his partnership with McIlroy is a pairing made in heaven
Ian Poulter (England)
Age: 37
Third Ryder Cup
Record: P7, W5, L2, H0
Controversy surrounded Poulter's wild card for Valhalla after he'd passed up the opportunity to play his way onto the team at Gleneagles. Yet the Englishman was Europe's best player, contributing four points (out of five) to a losing cause, in the process forging a neat partnership with Justin Rose. Accenture Match Play champion Poulter, a Ryder Cup debutant in 2004, should be a pillar of strength for his team at The Manor
Ross Fisher (England)
Age: 29
First Ryder Cup
Irish Open champion Fisher showed his acumen as a match player by winning last October's Volvo World Championship in Spain, bouncing back from a first-day defeat against Lee Westwood to record victories over Jeev Milkha Singh, Camilo Villegas, Angel Cabrera and US ace Anthony Kim. As a team player, Fisher proved his mettle by winning three matches out of five for GB&I at the 2009 Vivendi Trophy. His game could flourish in the unique atmosphere of the Ryder Cup
Francesco Molinari (Italy)
Age: 27
First Ryder Cup
Teamed up with elder brother Edoardo to complete a famous World Cup victory for Italy at Mission Hills last November. Molinari is a phenomenal performer from tee to green but would have far more than a solitary European Tour victory (at the Italian Open in 2006) had he been more consistent with the putter. Yet his form with the flat iron certainly wasn't too shabby over the past week at Gleneagles, especially from long range, and he should be very useful addition to the team
Peter Hanson (Sweden)
Age: 32
First Ryder Cup First Ryder Cup
A massively impressive effort by Hanson last Sunday when he held his nerve to clinch his second Tour win of the season, and fourth of his career, at the Czech Open to ensure he would make his Ryder Cup debut at Celtic Manor. After dashing home from the US PGA to accept a last-minute invite to play in the Czech Republic, the Swede underscored his mental toughness by completing a dramatic sudden-death victory over Peter Lawrie and Gary Boyd
Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain)
Age: 46
Fourth Ryder Cup
Record: P7, W1, L5, H1
One of the most popular figures in European golf, Jimenez jokes that “like a fine Rioja, I get better with age.” That certainly appears to be the case as his two victories this year, in Dubai and France, boosted the Spaniard's haul on Tour to 17, with no fewer than 11 of them won since he turned 40. After his Ryder Cup debut at Brookline in 1999, Jimenez played in Detroit (2004) and Valhalla (2008) so Celtic Manor will be his first home match
Luke Donald (England)
Age: 37
Third Ryder Cup
Record: P7, W5, L1, H1
Given a wild card by Bernhard Langer in 2004, Donald now gets picked by Monty despite playing The Barclays instead of Gleneagles. Ruled out of Valhalla by injury, Donald recently completed his first Tour victory in more than four years at the Madrid Masters. He has four wins out of four at foursomes but even if Donald was third at the Welsh Open, he could struggle for length if Celtic Manor is cold and wet in October
Edoardo Molinari (Italy)
Age: 29
First Ryder Cup
Justice was seen to be done when Monty gave Molinari a wild card after the Italian clinched his second victory in Scotland this season during an intriguing head-to-head battle with younger brother Franceso at Gleneagles yesterday. These two will forge a fine partnership at Celtic Manor. Edoardo also made the cut in all four Majors in 2010 and finished fourth in the Welsh Open at Celtic Manor. The Molinaris are the first brothers to play at the same Ryder Cup since Bernard and Geoffrey Hunt in 1963
Padraig Harrington (Republic of Ireland)
Age: 38
Sixth Ryder Cup
Record: P21, W7, L11, H3
Harrington made this pick a lot more difficult for Monty than it should have been. Though criticised for not trying to copperfasten his place at the Czech Open or Gleneagles, the real problem was the Dubliner's inconsistent form, especially as he missed the cut in three of four Majors this season. Yet, despite winning just half a point at each of the last two Ryder Cups, Harrington's class and experience told

Edoardo Molinari made it impossible for Colin Montgomerie to leave him out of the Ryder Cup side with his phenomenal performance at Gleneagles yesterday.

The young Italian's sensational victory at The Johnnie Walker Championship also helped copper-fasten Padraig Harrington's wild card for Celtic Manor.

The adage ‘old friends are best' certainly held true for the Republic of Ireland's three-time Major Champion as Montgomerie is well aware of Harrington's considerable strengths after forging a strong personal relationship with the Dubliner in the white heat of the Ryder Cup arena.

Not least at Oakland Hills in 2004, where they slammed Hal Sutton's ‘Dream Team' of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

The respect Harrington commands in the locker room and his stature as a multiple-winner at the Majors clearly transcended his results over two years, in which the Irishman has failed to win on Tour since his victory at the 2008 US PGA Championship.

Monty would insist he hasn't listed his wild cards in order of preference but, given the crucial importance of experience to a Ryder Cup team which, with Edoardo Molinari, includes six Ryder Cup rookies, it was entirely appropriate that Harrington's name would be the first uttered from the skipper's lips.

The other two picks went to England's Luke Donald and, of course, 29-year-old Molinari, who joins his younger brother Francesco, 27, at Celtic Manor on the back of a birdie-birdie-birdie swoop for victory at Gleneagles which Monty described as one of the best he's seen in 24-plus years on the European Tour.

“I don't think I've seen a finish of that quality under such pressure by anyone and all credit goes to Edoardo for coming here needing to win and doing so,” said Montgomerie.

The European skipper was unable to find room for English duo Justin Rose, a two time-winner on the US PGA Tour this summer, and Paul Casey, who at World No 9 is the highest-ranked player from either America or Europe not to make the Ryder Cup.

The low point of what Montgomerie conceded was the “most stress-laden day of his career” was phoning Rose on the practice ground to give him the bad news, moments before he went to the first tee for his final round in the lucrative FedEx Cup playoff.

He was unable to contact Casey because he had already embarked on his final round at The Barclays, ironically with Harrington.

Rather than find fault with a qualification system which was unable to find a place in the European team for a player ranked as highly as Casey, Montgomerie preferred instead to see the omission of the two Englishmen, “both world class players” as proof “of the embarrassment of riches we have on the European Tour.”

Ironically, in the 45 minutes or so it took for the completion of the Ryder Cup press conference at Gleneagles, Harrington dropped three shots in four holes on his front nine as he faded out of contention at the Barclays.

Maybe it's just as well Montgomerie wasn't watching, though it probably wouldn't have made any difference, judging by the glowing endorsement the Scot gave to Harrington.

“He has won three Major Championships in the last three years,” said the captain, adding: “Of course it's about the experience he brings to the team and the stature of Padraig Harrington as the calibre of player nobody wants to face in match-play golf.”

Not the least bit concerned by Harrington's recent record at the Ryder Cup, which includes just a half point won at The K Club in 2006 and again at Valhalla two years ago, Montgomerie went on: “Padraig's attitude and the way he plays the game is an inspiration to his fellow players,” said Monty.

“It's the way he devotes himself 110 per cent to everything he does and the wonderful work ethic he has. So no, I am not at all concerned about his form. It's the way he performs when he's up against the wall which most interests me and that is the Padraig Harrington we will see at Celtic Manor.”

Montgomerie used the word ‘we' throughout yesterday's media conference, deferring not only to the assistants — Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley — alongside him at the top table but also to Sergio Garcia in Spain, who, interestingly, has agreed to join the European backroom team at Celtic Manor as a vice-captain.

Currently taking a two months break from playing the sport, Garcia was offered the position “because of the passion he brings to the game, like Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Ballesteros, those two great Spaniards before him,” Monty explained.

A role has also been found for Rhys Davies of Wales on the backroom staff, which will not only please the home crowd, but also give this talented prospect an opportunity to taste the atmosphere at the Ryder Cup in the same way as Martin Kaymer did as Nick Faldo's special guest at Valhalla.

Though loyalty to the European Tour and the controversial decision by Harrington, Rose, Casey and Donald to play the FedEx Cup pipe-opener instead of the final qualifier at Gleneagles has been a hot topic of conversation on Tour over the past week, Montgomerie insisted it played no part in the wild card decisions.

“Fourteen and a half points, that's the only factor which came into consideration during our discussions,” he insisted, referring of course to the total required to wrest the Ryder Cup back from the United States.

Belfast Telegraph

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