Newtown Square, PA— Wednesday morning, European Captain Thomas Bjørn rounded out his Ryder Cup team with the selection of Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson as captain’s picks.
“These four were desperate to be part of The Ryder Cup and as soon as they got the call, their minds went straight to, ‘right, we’ve got to achieve something in Paris’,” Bjørn said in a European Tour press release. “I always say there are players who want to be in The Ryder Cup team, and there are players who want to play in The Ryder Cup. These four players want to play in the Ryder Cup. They want to be on the golf course and win points.”
Casey’s selection comes 10 years after his last appearance on the team and won on the PGA TOUR at the Valspar Championship while placing in the top-10 on five occasions worldwide this year.
“I’ve put a lot in to this, so to stand here confirmed as part of this team is amazing, I’m very honored,” he said. “It’s great to play for Captain Bjørn and I’m very excited. At times I’ve questioned the success I would have in the future, but I’ve stayed very consistent and focused on what I was doing. I’ve played very, very good golf in the last three, four, five years and put The Ryder Cup in the crosshairs and made it a very big goal. I re-joined the Tour and right now I’m playing some of the best golf I’ve ever played. I only wanted to be a part of the team if I felt I could be a great contributor, which I know I can be. Once I announced my intentions to Thomas it was full-tilt. This is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Garcia has been one of the mainstays on the European Team amassing 22.5 points in eight appearances and
“I’m very thankful to Thomas for believing in me,” said Garcia. “I know that it probably wasn’t an easy decision, but he knows what I bring to the team, not only game-wise but inside the team room. It’s been a tough year. I’ve been working hard. I feel like my game is coming along. It is very exciting for me to be part of another Ryder Cup team, and I’m going to give everything I have, not only on the golf course, but in the team room, to make sure that some of those rookies and some of the other guys feel as comfortable as possible.”
Garcia’s pick seemed to be for the fourth and final spot as several other golfers including Matt Wallace last year’s winner on the European Tour and Rafa Cabrera Bello were passed on. Ultimately Bjørn went with Garcia.
“You can see performance is temporary, class is permanent,” Justin Rose said in a Wednesday press conference. “Sergio has tons of experience in the Ryder Cup. Thomas is banking that he’s going to bring that enthusiasm that he often does to the Ryder Cup and it’s all about winning points.”
Poulter, who previously stated that he just wanted on the team whether by points or by selection ended up getting in on the latter, narrowly losing out to Thorbjorn Olesen for the final automatic spot.
In Ryder Cup play, Poulter has won 12 of his 18 matches and has yet to lose in Sunday singles. Poulter had four top-10 finishes this year and won the Houston Open on the PGA TOUR.
“This feels extra special to be part of another Ryder Cup Team,” Poulter said. “For Thomas to give me the call yesterday to say ‘I’d like you to join this great team’ means absolutely everything to me. It’s going to be an incredible spectacle. It is a very strong US team but when you look at the European Team on paper now I get goose bumps just standing here thinking about it. It has been a tough two years – 208th in the world rankings two years ago. That little gold trophy kept my heart beating and to be competing for that again is magical.”
Stenson, has had a good partnership with Justin Rose and also earned a captain’s selection. Stenson has previously participated in four Ryder Cups and in the 2016 version bested Jordan Spieth 3&2 in Sunday singles.
“It means a lot to me,” said Stenson. “I’ve got some of the greatest memories of my career from being part of the European Ryder Cup team, so to get that phone call to be playing in Paris is incredible. I’m super-excited and I’m going to do my very best to show up with my best form possible.”
The quartet joins the eight golfers who earned their way onto the European team in Olesen, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose.
“If I had written down 12 names before I started my captaincy journey, it wouldn’t have been far away from this,” said Bjørn. “I’m very delighted with this team and I’m very proud to be captain for these 12 players. They bring so much to European golf, and they are just a fantastic group of guys.”
Photo credit: European Tour