European Ryder Cup captain chose experience over, in some cases, form when he announced the remaining players in his team for Le Golf National. He chose Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson over more in form players such as Russell Knox, Matthew Wallace and Matt Fitzpatrick. With five rookies on his team he chose to shore up the squad with players who are vastly experienced in Ryder Cup matches.
He said he wanted people who wanted to play in the Ryder Cup rather than just be in it. He also said it’s a lot about the atmosphere in the team room and he specifically mentioned Garcia in that respect. Sergio admits he has had a tough year, missing the cut in all four majors and not making the FedEx Cup play offs. But Bjorn referred to him as “the heartbeat of the team. I’ve seen him make other players better. He brings so much both on and off the course. He is everything the European Team is all anout. There is just something about him, I trust him to deliver on the golf course”. Sergio’s Ryder Cup record is good, winning 22.5 points from 37 matches.
Paul Casey makes a return to the team for the first time in 10 years. Bjorn says he is anworld class player with pedigree and the experience of seeing him be part of the European team in the EurAsia Cup earlier this year convinced him of his commitment, especially when he rejoined the European Tour despite having his family based in America. Casey says he knows he can contribute, “We’ve got to win. I’m really up for this challenge and will give it 100%”.
Ian Poulter being chosen was really no surprise after his huge win at Houston and the way he kept on playing afterwards, He knew what he wanted to achieve, plaaying in this team was his sole focus. Poulter said that he had goosebumps just thinking about the match. When I was 208 in the World Rankings two years ago the Ryder Cup kept my heart beating and kept me going”.
Henrik Stenson was the one Bjorn had the niggling doubt about because of his injury to his left elbow, which caused inflamation and weakness so he withdrew from the Scottihs Open before the Open Championship. It’s possible that the injury may have been sustained last year during a pre-tournament photo shoot in Shanghai when he did this:
Bjorn says his stature as a major champion will strengthen the team and his calmness and good temperament will be useful around the younger players. Justin Rose and he have built a strong partnership in previous matches and he has the accuracy off the tee and precision with his iron shots that Paris National demands. The 2016 Open Champion currently leads the PGA tour statistics in two categories. He says he is “super excited and all set for the greatest Ryder Cup battle ever”.