If Ryder Cup experience means anything the U.S. team will be in big trouble when the biennial matches come to Medinah Country Club for their 39th staging beginning Sept. 25. Europe’s 12-man squad is loaded with veterans, to say nothing of talent.
The European team, which has won four of the last five Ryder Cup battles and six of the last eight, completed its roster this week when Jose Maria Olazabal named Ian Poulter and Nicolas Colsaerts as his captain’s picks.
Olazabal picked those two after 10 automatic berths were determined following European PGA Tour’s Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in Scotland – the Ryder Cup site for 2014.
The long-hitting Colsaerts will be the first golfer from Belgium to play in the Ryder Cup, and he’s also the only rookie on the European squad. The U.S. is already assured of three first-timers (Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson) through the point standings that determined eight automatic berths on the team.
Europe and the U.S. have different methods of selection. Europe’s formula started with the top five players on the European PGA Tour point standings (Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, England’s Justin Rose, Scotland’s Paul Lawrie, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Italy’s Francesco Molinari).
The process continued after the Johnnie Walker with the top five — not counting the five already picked — off the world rankings. Those spots went to Luke Donald and Lee Westwood of England, Sergio Garcia of Spain, Peter Hanson of Sweden and Martin Kaymer of Germany.
Olazabal was given only two captain’s picks. U.S. captain Davis Love III has four, and he’ll name them on Sept. 4 in New York. Love will be hard-pressed to assemble a squad as strong as the Euros. All 12 European players are in the top 35 in the world rankings. McIlroy and Donald are 1-2.
Colsaerts’ selection over Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello created the only suspense in Olazabal’s determination of his captain’s picks. England’s Poulter, a great match play competitor – he has an 8-3 record in three previous Ryder Cups, was consider a shoo-in.
The battle for the other pick was a tough one, and Colsaerts, a 10-year professional though he’s only 29, earned it in the last two weeks. He tied for seventh at the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship, then hurried back to Europe to tie for 19th in the Johnnie Walker.
Cabrera-Bello tied for 10th there but Colsaerts’ extraordinary length off the tee makes him a good fit for Medinah. Europe will go into this Ryder Cup with just one rookie for only the third time since 1979.
Illinois PGA Tour players didn’t do well in The Barclay’s event last week in New York. Only Luke Donald improved his position in the FexEx Cup playoff standings. He tied for 10th to climb from 16th in the point race to 14th.
The only other local to make the cut in New York was Kevin Streelman, but he shot 76-72 on the weekend to finish in a tie for 63rd. He dropped to 112th in the point race and only the top 100 qualified for the second playoff event, the Deutsche Bank Championship beginning Thursday at TPC Boston.
Mark Wilson and D.A. Points both missed the cut at The Barclays but rank high enough to tee it up in Boston. Wilson is No. 39 and Points No. 50. Both will have to play well this week to stay in the top 70 for the third playoff event, the BMW Championship Sept. 6-9 at Crooked Stick in Indianapolis. The BMW Championship had been held at Cog Hill and will be contested at Conway Farms in Lake Forest in 2013.
Here and there
Recording artist Jordin Sparks has been selected to sing the U.S. National Anthem during the Ryder Cup opening ceremonies at Medinah on Sept. 27….The 90th Illinois PGA Championship concludes today (WEDNESDAY) at Stonewall Orchard in Grayslake. Stonewall, has been the only public course in the tourney’s three-course rotation. Olympia Fields is listed for 2013 and Medinah for 2014….The PGA Junior Golf League, a nation-wide program for youngsters 13 and under, will climax its season with a six-team competition at Medinah on Sept. 14 and Cog Hill in Lemont on Sept. 15-16…..The Chicago District Golf Assn. will conduct two events on Monday – the CDGA Better Ball of Pairs at Kemper Lakes in Hawthorn Woods and a qualifying session for the U.S. Senior Amateur at McHenry Country Club…..Northbrook-based KemperSports has added Quail Lodge in Carmel, Calif., to its management portfolio.