There is only one event in the bag since qualification for Team Europe began – but that doesn't mean we can't have a bit of fun
We’re a year out from Europe defending the Ryder Cup so let’s have a go at guessing who will and won’t be heading to Whistling Straits. I’m joined by Steve Carroll, Alex Perry and Joe Hughes for this one…
Which of the European team in Paris will miss out at Whistling Straits?
Steve: Some of these guys aren’t getting any younger and, with another two years in the books, I’d be surprised if the likes of Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson could rouse themselves for another go in America. If they need a pick, I reckon both could be in trouble. Le Golf National felt like closure for Poulter, in particular, and it’s a brave captain who goes for a couple of mid 40-year-olds in his wildcards given some of the younger names ranging up behind.
Alex: Poulter is desperate to play but Le Golf National was a perfect way to end his Ryder Cup playing career and he should get a couple more runs as vice-captain under his belt before he takes the reins at Bethpage in 2024.
Joe: The guy who holed the most meaningful meaningless putt in recent Ryder Cup history, Alex Noren, hasn’t been in great form since Le Golf National and will need a good run. There will be stronger captain’s pick candidates come next September.
My verdict: If history tells us anything then there will be big changes. It might not seem it at the time when a dozen heroes are spraying champagne in each other’s faces but things change and, often, very quickly.
Only four of the Paris 12 were part of Darren Clarke’s line-up at Hazeltine. Think of the likes of Victor Dubuisson who seemed set for a glorious Ryder Cup career after his Gleneagles heroics in 2014.
I’ll go with Hatton, Olesen, Noren, Poulter and a surprise Garcia to make way.
I’m very hopeful that Stenson will stick around for one final outing and can see Casey enjoying a Indian Summer after a very strange Ryder Cup career.
And who makes their Ryder Cup debut for Padraig Harrington’s side?
Alex: Matt Wallace should have been on the plane to Paris and he will be on the plane to Shab… Sheb… Shib… Wisconsin.
Joe: I’ve already argued my case for Viktor Hovland and my other pick is Bernd Wiesberger. He’s been one of the best players on the European Tour for a few years now and, now injury free, a decent run of form will see him comfortably make the side.
Steve: If I had clairvoyance skills like these I’d use them for winning the lottery. Hovland is clearly the popular pick.
My verdict: First up our Open champion Shane Lowry who, all being well, will finally provide the calm hand on the tiller for Rory’s sidekick. Imagine the freedom being able to play foursomes with the best chipper in the business.
Matt Wallace is the next obvious one as he’ll get the chance to cement his place this time around by playing in all the big events and I’ll go slightly outside the box with the romantic notion that Bob MacIntyre will keep rocketing through the ranks and catch Harrington’s eye. More likely is that a couple of old faces like Cabrera Bello have another go after missing out in France.
Finally, does Tiger or Phil have one final go?
Joe: There is no way you can leave Tiger out of the team if he’s fit. You just can’t do it. It would be like Argentina leaving out Lionel Messi for the World Cup, it just won’t happen. Phil, meanwhile, was abysmal in Paris and shouldn’t be anywhere near the team. He clearly couldn’t be bothered.
Alex: If the USA want to win they’ll leave these two at home with their feet up. But that won’t happen because Tiger and Stricks are BFFs.
Steve: They should lock the plane doors and leave the pair with their bags back in departures. Tiger’s record is horrible considering he’s the GOAT, while Mickelson would comfortably get in any list of worst Ryder Cup wildcards on his 2018 display. It’s time to move on. They’ve had their time. Rehearse those rousing speeches, leave the playing to others.
My verdict: This is a new thing but I’d like nothing more than seeing Mickelson have another go and not have his Paris water ball as his final contribution to the Ryder Cup. But I just can’t see it happening.
Why on earth would you write off Tiger at anything? We’re doing it again and he won the Masters five months ago. Paris came at the worst possible time, a few days after his East Lake shenanigans and he was absolutely spent. Forget the very ordinary record, if he’s anywhere near the mix then he’s easily one of the 12 best Americans.