Ryder Cup 2018: Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey & Henrik Stenson get Europe wildcards
Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson have been given Ryder Cup wildcards by Europe captain Thomas Bjorn.
They join automatic qualifiers Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Alex Noren and Thorbjorn Olesen.
The three-day event starts on 28 September at Le Golf National in Paris.
Defending champions the United States have not won in Europe since 1993.
Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson had all qualified automatically for the United States team.
They were joined on Tuesday by wildcard picks Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, with captain Jim Furyk naming his final player on Monday, 10 September after the BMW Championship.
‘Poulter is the man for the occasion’
Englishman Poulter, 42, has helped Europe win the event four times, but was injured and missed the 17-11 defeat in 2016.
“When he gets confident, he hits that European badge hard. He is a man for the occasion and he is a special person,” said Dane Bjorn.
World number 33 Poulter told Sky Sports: “I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.
“This feels extra special to be part of and for Thomas to give me the call yesterday means absolutely everything.”
BBC readers chose Poulter as their top pick for a wildcard in an online poll.
‘Garcia is the heartbeat of the team’
Garcia, the 2017 Masters champion, has played in eight Ryder Cups, winning five times.
The 38-year-old Spaniard has struggled for form this year, missing the cut at all four majors and failing to qualify for the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup play-offs for the first time.
“You have to look at Sergio in certain ways – he is the heartbeat of the team,” Bjorn said. “It’s like a football team going without their captain. He makes everybody around him better. He is everything that the European Ryder Cup team is about.”
Garcia added: “It’s been a tough year, but I’ve been working hard and I feel like my game is coming along.”
Casey ‘back where he belongs’
England’s Casey is eligible for selection again after ruling himself out in 2016 by declining to rejoin the European Tour. He missed out on a wildcard in 2010 despite being seventh in the world, but was part of victories in 2004 and 2006 before contributing just a half point at Valhalla 10 years ago.
“He’s really shown he’s missed this part of his life,” said Bjorn. “It was a no-brainer to bring him back. He brings world-class golf back to the team.”
Casey, 41, rejoined the European Tour this season and is the world number 16.
“I made this a very big goal,” said Casey, who has played in three Ryder Cups.
“I rejoined the European Tour and I’m playing some of the best golf I’ve ever played. I’m so excited to get back to somewhere I feel like I belong.”
‘Stenson injury is not a problem’
Swedish former Open champion Stenson has played in four Ryder Cups and holed the winning putt on his debut at The K Club in 2006.
The 42-year-old has registered top-six finishes at both the Masters and US Open in 2018, but has slipped out of the world’s top 10 and struggled with an elbow injury over recent months.
“We had long conversations about his elbow injury but he’s focused from his personal achievement to being ready for the Ryder Cup,” said Bjorn.
“As soon as I knew that, it wasn’t a problem to pick him.”
‘Garcia is the heartbeat of the European team’
Analysis by BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter
Thomas Bjorn’s selection of Sergio Garcia is a calculated gamble, with the skipper banking on the Spaniard’s experience and fight to conquer his current indifferent form to inspire Europe’s challenge to regain the Ryder Cup.
The notion that Europe might go into the match without last year’s Masters champion would have been unthinkable before a wretched summer for the Spaniard.
But the European captain insists the 38-year-old is “the heartbeat” of European teams and it would be like a football team going into a big match without their captain.