Europe Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn loaded his team with experience when he named Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson as his four wildcards picks for this month’s match against the United States in Paris.
With five rookies having already booked their places automatically through the European and World Points standings, Denmark’s Bjorn opted to beef up his team with four players who boast 20 previous Ryder Cup appearances between them.
Spain’s Garcia, veteran of eight previous Ryder Cups and winner of 22.5 points, got the nod despite a dismal season in which he missed the cut in all four majors.
England’s Poulter, 42, is known as “Mr Ryder Cup” after his heroics at Medinah in 2012 and boasts an incredible record, losing just four of his 18 matches in his five previous appearances in the biennial event.
He sat out the 17-11 defeat at Hazeltine two years ago because of a foot injury that saw his ranking plummet and said he was already “getting goosebumps” at the thought of continuing his love affair with the event.
“This feels extra special. For Thomas to give me the call yesterday means absolutely everything,” he said.
World number 16 Casey returns after a 10-year absence while former Open champion Stenson has recovered from an elbow injury that nagged his mid-season and is another player slipper Bjorn will be able to depend on in the heat of battle.
There was disappointment for England’s Matt Wallace who pushed himself into contention with victory in last week’s Made in Denmark tournament in which he beat Ryder Cup vice-captain Lee Westwood in a playoff to claim his third title of the year.
Bjorn explained his decision to opt for experience.
“We’ve got five great rookies, but you need people who have been through it and done it all, positively and negatively,” Bjorn said after naming his captain’s picks.
Bjorn will announce his last wildcard on Monday.
The 42nd Ryder Cup takes place at Le Golf National in Paris from Sept. 28-30.
Europe team: Justin Rose, Francesco Molinari, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Alex Noren, Thorbjorn Olesen, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson.