Ryder Cup 2016: We predict Europe's team for Hazeltine
Team: McIlroy, Rose, Kaymer, Stenson, Casey, Garcia, Lowry, Dubuisson, Donald, Westwood, Willett, Wiesberger
Notable absentees: Poulter, McDowell, Donaldson
New star: Casey
Yes I’m well aware that Casey isn’t a newcomer to the game but the last time he played in this competition was back in 2008. You would think he will qualify comfortably. Likewise Donald who is inching his way back to form and is a brilliant Ryder Cup player – his record is 10-4-1.
Seems odd to think Poulter won’t be there, he’ll be 40 by the time the match is played. With three picks it wouldn’t take much to get one of them, and he is comfortably inside the world’s top 50, but we’ll be brave and say he’ll miss out.
Otherwise I’d like to go with Alex Noren but his injuries seem to get in the way of his progress so I’ll take a chance with Wiesberger instead. Seems to like the big stage and a player on the up. The assumption is that Willett will also continue on his merry way, a lot can change in 12 months but let’s have some faith in him.
Finally, Westwood will be there. Used sparingly he could be a very good asset to the side, as he was at Gleneagles. And he’s best buddies with the captain.
European rankings: Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Danny Willett, Bernd Wiesberger
World rankings: Shane Lowry, Martin Kaymer, Marc Warren, Victor Dubuisson, Henrik Stenson
Captain’s picks: Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Renato Paratore
Notable absentee: Jamie Donaldson’s back is playing up again, and after a decade of problems with it, I’m not sure he’ll be able to recover the scintillating form which got him to Gleneagles. Ian Poulter won’t play this year either. His star’s been on the wane for a little while and I think Darren Clarke’s got the stones to leave him out.
New star: Renato Paratore – the amateur hasn’t lit the world on fire in his first year on tour, but then he’s only 18. If he finds his feet in 2016, he’ll play almost every event next year and I think there’ll be a couple of wins to get him up there. Marc Warren is improving too, and I think hell make the team.
Nothing too exciting with veterans such as McIlroy, Rose, Kaymer, Stenson, Garcia and Westwood. I chose Westwood over McDowell because I think he’ll fill the role of senior statesman and will probably be paired with Paratore and help him around the course.
Equipment: Galvin Green outerwear for European Ryder Cup team
Danny Willett’s proving his pedigree this year, so I can’t see him missing out – he’s spent most of this season only second to McIlroy and there’s no reason for that to change.
After a bang average year, I was going to leave Dubuisson out in favour of an established veteran such as Luke Donald. But I think his undefeated status in 2014 will be at the forefront of Clarke’s thoughts. He’s also pretty new on the scene, so he’s allowed a blip.
Jamie Donaldson relives Ryder Cup-winning shot
After having chosen two veterans for his Captain’s Pick, Clarke’s going to blood a youngster, and I think Paratore’s his man.
[Ed – October 2015 – HOW HAVE I MISSED MATT FITZPATRICK OUT?! Sorry Renato, but there’s going to be a double helping of Sheffield steel in this team. Paratore out, Fitzpatrick in.]
Team: McIlroy, Rose, Garcia, Kaymer, Lowry, Willett, Casey, Molinari, Fleetwood, McDowell, Stenson, Lingmerth
Notable absentee: Westwood
New star: Lowry
The European team continues to evolve, which is a real strength, and I expect several changes from last year. I don’t see a place for the likes of Donald, Westwood and Poulter but I do think McDowell will be back to his best next year. I have a feeling that Stenson might need a wild card and I can see Dubuisson missing out, as well as Bjorn, Gallacher and Donaldson from the Gleneagles XII.
Judging by his form in 2015, Casey should return for what will remarkably be his first cup appearance in eight years.
I think Shane Lowry will not only make the team but be an absolute star – he plays with energy and unfettered passion and is the kind of player who will come up with a chip in when he really needs it. Similarly, Willett and Fleetwood will not lack for confidence.
Quickfire Q&A: Shane Lowry
It should give Darren Clarke some well-balanced partnerships because these rookies can play alongside the experienced likes of Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Henrik Stenson and, of course, Rory McIlroy.
Team: McIlroy, Stenson, Rose, Willett, Lowry, Garcia, Kaymer, Casey, Dubuisson, Sullivan, Fleetwood, Wiesberger
Notable absentees: McDowell, Westwood, Poulter, Donald
New star: Willett
Five rookies could set alarm bells ringing but think it could work in Europe’s favour by making them underdogs.
The less pressure on Captain Clarke the better.
This is a young team but even the rookies have played in the states enough not to be phased. And those who have played bring a wealth of experience to the team.
Danny Willett proved his matchplay credentials in the WGC and has started to content in the majors. He will relish the Ryder Cup battle.