By KEVIN CUNNINGHAM Wednesday, September 05, 2018
The European team roster for the 2018 Ryder Cup is officially set. On Wednesday, European captain Thomas Bjorn made his four captain’s picks for this year’s event at Le Golf National in France. Bjorn tapped veterans Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson to round out the European side.
They will join the eight players who automatically qualified for the team on points: Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Alex Noren, and Thorbjorn Olesen. Olesen earned the final automatic spot following the tournaments last weekend.
Ryder Cup record: 12-4-2 (4-0-1 singles)
Qualifications: Poulter has been a stalwart of the European Ryder Cup team since 2004. He seems to raise his game to new heights every two years for this event, and his near-flawless record proves just how valuable he is to this team. He missed the roster in 2016 but was chosen as a vice captain to help lead the group from the sidelines. Europe is hoping Poulter’s return to the course will provide the spark needed to reclaim the cup.
Recent form: Less than a year ago, it looked like Poulter would never play on the PGA Tour again, let alone compete in a Ryder Cup. But the tenacious Englishman put up an incredible comeback in 2018. He won the Houston Open in April and added six top-25 finishes on the PGA Tour since.
Ryder Cup record: 3-2-4 (1-1-1 singles)
Qualifications: Casey first made the European team in 2004, but he has not played the Ryder Cup in 10 years. However, he’s seen a bit of a career renaissance in recent years. Casey is well-liked by his fellow pros and should prove to be a solid veteran presence in the locker room.
Recent form: Following years of on-course struggles, Casey turned his career around in the past two seasons. That return to form culminated in his second PGA Tour victory at the Valspar Championship in March, where he held off a charging Tiger Woods. Casey also finished T2 at the Travelers Championship and has five total top-5s this season.
Ryder Cup record: 19-11-7 (3-4-1)
Qualifications: Garcia’s Ryder Cup resume speaks for itself. One of the greatest European team players of all time, Garcia has been on every Ryder Cup team since 1999, except for 2010 when he served as a vice captain. Sergio’s energy and enthusiasm in the Ryder Cup is unrivaled, and no doubt captain Bjorn values what he brings to the team off the course as much, if not more than any points he earns.
Recent form: It has been an ugly year for Sergio. Though he finally broke through and won his first major at the 2017 Masters, his play since has been highly suspect. He has only three top-10 finishes in 2018 and has missed eight cuts in 15 events.
Ryder Cup record: 7-7-2 (2-2-0)
Qualifications: Henrik Stenson would normally be an obvious pick for any Ryder Cup team. He’s a veteran of the event, a recent major champion, and not long ago was a regular in the top 10 of the world rankings. He’s also a fiery competitor who has an incredible ability to stay in control in high-pressure situations on the course. But his recent form is not exactly ideal.
Recent form: Speaking of his play of late, Stenson has had a tough year on Tour, at least by his high standards. The 2016 Open champ missed the cut at last month’s PGA Championship and finished T69 in his most recent event at the Dell Technologies Championship. His last win came in 2016, and since he has fallen all the way to No. 22 in the world rankings.