Bjorn divides opinion with Ryder Cup wildcard picks
Thomas Bjorn’s wildcard picks have been criticised after be opted for experience over form for his 2018 European Ryder Cup team.
Cabrera Bello earned 2.5 points out of 3 at Hazeltine two years ago and has been in decent form on the PGA Tour.
But his decision to skip the final European Tour qualifying event – where he could have sealed an automatic spot – has ultimately cost him his place.
England’s Matt Wallace made a late charge with a victory at the Made in Denmark – his third of the season – but with five rookies already in the team, it was a risk Bjorn didn’t seem willing to take.
Here’s how the NCG team reacted as they watched the news breaking live:
— National Club Golfer (@NCGMagazine) September 5, 2018
So the 2018 European Ryder Cup team in-full is as follows: Justin Rose, John Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Alex Noren, Thorbjorn Olesen, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia.
Here’s what our team of writers had to say…
I think Bjorn has understandably gone with what he knows and trusts. Like Furyk, he is compromised to a degree because many of the candidates for wildcards are his friends, peers and former Ryder Cup teammates. It would have been much easier for him to tell, say, Cabrera Bello that he had missed out than, for example, Sergio. I personally would have liked to see Pieters instead of either Garcia or Casey but I don’t really think he can consider himself unlucky. The issue for Bjorn is that he has picked four experienced wildcards. One has been injured (Stenson), one has played a very heavy schedule and looks in need of a little rest (Poulter) and the other two, while world-class, are short on form (Casey and especially Sergio). He may yet come to regret not picking one form horse to go with their undoubted class.
The fact Bjorn already had five rookies was clearly playing on his mind. He would have loved a couple of these guys to have made the team automatically. I think leaving out Cabrera Bello and taking Casey is a mistake. One will bring energy and harmony to the team, the other has been in a self-imposed exile for 10 years and by all accounts isn’t that popular. I can’t argue with the inclusion of Poulter, Stenson and Garcia because if I was in that team room, they are the guys I’d want to be there. Good characters and capable of performing under the most intense pressure.
Now we’ve got the picks it all seems to make sense. I think Cabrera Bello is the unlucky one here and Garcia the fortunate one. The world and his wife thought Stenson and Poulter were ‘locks’ and then we had a cluster of slightly out-of-form players and Matt Wallace. Take Wallace as an observer and, for now, let the big boys at them. The American team is full of some incredible names, now we’ve evened things up a little.
As with the American selections, Europe’s wildcard picks offered no surprises whatsoever. Bjorn’s gone with what he knows best and I accept it would have been hard to leave out one of Garcia, Poulter, Stenson or Casey – all European powerhouses. I’d have liked to have seen Cabrera Bello selected. I think he’s in better form than all of those who got the nod but this is the quartet that are going and it is absolutely imperative they deliver.
It’s easy to sit here and say he should take him or this player should definitely go, but if I was to put myself in Thomas Bjorn’s shoes, I think deep down you’d all pick the same four. You’ve got one chance to win the Ryder Cup, you’ve already got a handful of rookies, and you need a bit of tried-and-trusted and that’s what Bjorn’s done. It’s harsh on the likes of Cabrera Bello and Wallace, in particular, but they’ll understand.
Here’s some of the reaction from social media…
No Matt Wallace is a joke
— Glyn Picknell (@bullylad1) September 5, 2018
Never easy to make four perfect picks, but consider Rafa Cabrera Bello’s last five starts:
— Rex Hoggard (@RexHoggardGC) September 5, 2018
Jesus Christ. Thought we had more backbone than to leave out in-form players in favour of guys that played a while ago and have played shit this summer. Assumed Bjorn would be different. Disappointed. @RyderCupEurope
— Jimbo. (@JimbobSomeroo) September 5, 2018
Bjorn calls Sergio "the heartbeat of the team" and said a Garcia absence would be "a football team going without a captain." High praise in lieu of much form in the last 6 months.
— Will Gray (@WillGrayGC) September 5, 2018
— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) September 5, 2018
Really cannot see how you can justify Sergio in our @RyderCupEurope team! Sure he has a great Ryder Cup Career but zero form leading into the event! Has huge expectations to take the place from @Thomas_Pieters who had a great Ryder Cup debut and is in form! pic.twitter.com/6h8K3wgb39
— Kris Jones (@KrisJones87) September 5, 2018