New faces on the European team?

With just 16 weeks of golf remaining before European captain Nick Faldo finalises his team for Ryder Cup 2008, it does appear likely that the European team will feature quite a few new faces in Valhalla.

Some of the veterans of the 2006 victory, and indeed of many previous victories, will have to play a lot of successful golf to climb back into serious contention for this year’s team. Previous European stalwarts such as Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley and Jose-Maria Olazabal are all facing an uphill climb to get themselves into contention on the points lists.

One unknown variable will be Nick Faldo’s policy when selecting his two personal picks; he may choose to go with the experience of proven winners and in that scenario the above quartet come very much into consideration. Alternatively, Faldo may elect to go with players who just miss out on automatic qualification but have been playing winning golf in the weeks leading up to the selection.

Three players who look almost certain to be on the team, based on their present standings in both points lists, are Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose. Rose will be a Ryder Cup ‘rookie’ but has proven his capability to compete at the highest level in recent years, almost a decade after his dramatic emergence onto the world stage when he came so close to winning the British Open as a teenager.

Following his play-off victory this week at Sawgrass, Sergio Garcia has jumped into the Top 5 on the World Points list and will be expected to maintain an automatic qualification position. Padraig Harrington, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Robert Karlsson and Ian Poulter will all be expected to collect sufficient points for qualification, especially given their multiple scheduled appearances on the European Tour.

These names aside, it looks like it will be a very open contest for the remaining places. Last year’s rookie of the year, Martin Kaymer has had a great start to 2008 and will be keen to continue a proud tradition of German contribution to Ryder Cup success. Daniel Chopra has featured high on the World Points list but may be under pressure to stay in contention given his lack of appearances in Europe. This is also a challenge for Luke Donald and to a lesser extent, Garcia.

Other names likely to contend include Graeme McDowell, Soren Hansen, Nick Dougherty and Oliver Wilson.

Predicting is a dangerous business but with the summer of golf upon us, the Ryder Diary team are confident that Harrington, Rose, Garcia, Westwood, Stenson and Jimenez will all qualify for selection. That leaves just four automatic positions between over twenty legitimate contenders. The only certainty is that that race will run all the way to August 31st.


Leave a Reply

To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image