Ryder Cup wild-cards named
Europe’s captain Paul McGinley announced his choices of Ian Poulter, Stephen Gallacher and Lee Westwood at Wentworth, whilst the US captain Tom Watson named Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson.
Poulter, Westwood and Gallacher join the nine players who have already qualified automatically for a place in McGinley's side at golf's biggest showpiece, which starts on September 26 in Perthshire.
With Poulter always guaranteed selection due to his past Ryder Cup heroics, this essentially became a battle between Westwood and Donald. Westwood has been far from his best in recent times though there have been flashes of his ability on the biggest stages such as the Masters, Players Championship and US PGA Championship.
Westwood crucially showed he was still capable of hitting top form in the game's major events with a strong showing at the US PGA Championship, where he could have challenged McIlroy for the title but for a bad back nine in the second round. The 41-year-old also finished seventh in the Masters in April and won in Malaysia the following week.
”The Ryder Cup has been a massive part of my career,' said Westwood. 'I'm delighted to be representing Europe again.”
Gallacher however, will be making his Ryder Cup debut, just 35 miles from his Scottish home. “It's massive for me and my family. It's been a goal of mine all my life,” said the Scot.
On the US side, Bradley made his debut at Medinah two years ago when he partnered Phil Mickelson to three wins out of three before losing to Rory McIlroy in the singles. "He is the epitome of someone who wanted to get on the team," said Watson, who captained the US to their last win on European soil at The Belfry in 1993
Mahan, who lost to Graeme McDowell in the decisive match in 2010, will make his third Ryder Cup appearance after impressing with victory in August's Barclays event, the first of the four PGA Tour end-of-season play-offs. "Redemption is going to be a strong word for all the players," he said. "We are extremely motivated, we have a lot to prove. We can't wait to get over to Scotland and get ready for battle."
Simpson, the 2012 US Open champion, won two matches with Bubba Watson on his Ryder Cup debut in 2012. He and Watson lost their Saturday morning foursomes to Ian Poulter and Justin Rose and he also lost his singles match to Poulter on the Sunday.
Europe have won seven of the last nine editions of the biennial matchplay competition.