No Rose, Stenson or Molinari on Padraig Harrington's Team Europe...
7 Big Names Missing From The European Ryder Cup Team
And so the 2021 European Ryder Cup team reads as follows – Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland, Shane Lowry, Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Jon Rahm, Lee Westwood and Bernd Wiesberger.
Wentworth provided all manner of possible endings to the qualifying process but, in the end, Wiesberger made his way in and Westwood narrowly hung on.
As expected Padraig Harrington went with Poulter and Garcia as two of his wildcard picks and, after Lowry missed out on the automatic spots, he too will be on the plane to Whistling Straits for his Ryder Cup debut.
As always much of the story was about the ones who missed out with the headline exclusion being Justin Rose as five of the heroes from Paris missed out.
We take a look at those who just failed to make the grade…
7 Big Names Missing From The European Ryder Cup Team
Ryder Cup qualifying: 14th European/16th World
World ranking: 42nd
2021 highlight: Maybe this week at Wentworth and the near-albatross finish
Rose missed out on a captain’s pick in 2010 when he discovered the bad news 15 minutes before his final round when in contention on the PGA Tour.
This year he has had to play Wentworth knowing he needed a win to make it and he would come up just three shots short of Billy Horschel.
He has featured on five Ryder Cup teams, winning three times and his record stands at a very impressive 13-8-2 and his foursomes record is a brilliant 7-2-1.
When you think back to Paris there was no other European on the planet who you would want more than Rose to get us under way.
But, despite two major top 10s this season, he failed to make the FedEx Cup Playoffs and it hasn’t been a vintage year for the 41-year-old.
“It was incredibly difficult with JR, he was in contention his last two events. Did I need more? Maybe not but who he was going up against, the consistency of Shane Lowry and what Sergio and Ian have brought over the years somebody had to lose out and it really is as close as that. He came here (to Wentworth) under pressure and he performed, it was just a step too far,” explained Harrington.
“I’m delighted that Bernd Wiesberger played his way in, but ultimately it was a spot gone that could have gone to a JR or an Alex Noren. He was clearly disappointed but it was just one step too far.”
Ryder Cup qualifying: 49th European/24th World
World ranking: 139th
2021 highlight: That third place at Crans when he closed with a 63
The Swede is now 45 so you have to wonder if we’ll see him in European colours again on golf’s grandest stage?
He hasn’t had a sniff in the majors, his world ranking has slipped around 100 places over the qualifying process but you still wondered whether there might be a late surge for Stenson.
He had back-to-back top 5s in the Czech Republic and at Crans and he started strongly in Italy but then things, as they have done for much of the year, fizzled out a bit.
If this is to be it then what a way to sign off than in 2018 where, used sparingly, he would emerge alongside Justin Rose for the afternoon foursomes, take down a couple of American big guns and then trounce Bubba 5&4. What a superstar, he’ll be missed.
Ryder Cup qualifying: 53rd European/54th World
World ranking: 167th
2021 highlight: A top 15 at the US Open promised something but it wasn’t to be
Molinari all but ruled himself out of the Ryder Cup running after the recent Italian Open after a combination of injuries and a loss of form have seen him drop off the radar – two years ago at Wentworth the Italian was inside the world’s top 10, now he’s 167th.
What might have been the highlight of his year was the Olympics in Tokyo but even that was scuppered by a bad back.
Three years ago in France must feel like a long time ago as he and Tommy Fleetwood conjured up one of the most fun and successful partnerships in Ryder Cup history as the legend of Moliwood was born – the Italian would finish the week with a perfect 5-0-0 and a handshake with Phil Mickelson on the 16th tee.
Ryder Cup qualifying: 9th European/13th World
World ranking: 55th
2021 highlight: Finishing 8th at Royal St George’s, his second straight Open top 10
There have been lots of noises about MacIntyre and his suitability for the Ryder Cup; in among all his skills he’s as ballsy as he is classy, loves the big stage and you wouldn’t have to let your mind wander too much to imagine him stuffing a 6-iron to a few feet at Whistling Straits.
At the 2017 Walker Cup he smashed Cameron Champ 6&4 before getting a half the next day.
“If we both played our best then I would probably lose as he was hitting shorter irons in but the chances of him playing great when I’m playing great are slimmer as I was always hitting in first and putting so much pressure on him.”
You could hardly say his form has dipped as the qualifying process has ticked on, he’s just come up a bit short at the age of 25.
Ryder Cup qualifying: 8th European/12th World
World ranking: 53rd
2021 highlight: His WGC-Match Play efforts
Many of us are still revelling in the efforts of the last Frenchman, allez Victor!, to feature in the Ryder Cup and, for much of this campaign, it looked like we might have another in the stylish Perez.
When he finished fourth at the WGC-Match Play, having beaten the likes of Marc Leishman, Sungjae Im, MacIntyre and Garcia, he was up to a career-high of 30 on the world rankings.
One more big week in one of the majors and that might have been enough but four missed cuts meant the writing was on the wall in terms of the Ryder Cup.
Ryder Cup qualifying: 17th World
World ranking: 60th
2021 highlight: His 4th at Liberty National a few weeks ago
Noren produced the perfect finale in Paris when he rolled in a gargantuan putt across Le Golf National’s 18th green to edge out Bryson DeChambeau and we might have had the ideal foursomes partner for Garcia once more.
Interestingly, after Rose, Noren was the name Harrington mentioned in terms of close shaves and he’s one of those players who you simply can’t fail to be impressed by.
One of the first things Harrington spoke of afterwards was the number of quality ball strikers he had on his team, ahead of a proper test at Whistling Straits, and Noren would be very much part of that.
He came with a late run in the Playoffs but narrowly missed out on East Lake when a big week there or Wentworth, along with other permutations going his way, might have seen him win a second cap.
Ryder Cup qualifying: 18th European/19th World
World ranking: 156th
2021 highlight: Not loads to go on but maybe his T11 at the British Masters (hosted by Danny Willett) at The Belfry
Willett couldn’t have made a quicker start when he knocked off the PGA at Wentworth in 2019 but things have been steady rather than spectacular for much of the interim.
It seems strange to think that Willett has still only played in one Ryder Cup, a few days that probably couldn’t have gone much worse on all counts, and this year he needed to win at Wentworth again to have a chance of an automatic spot – in the end he finished well off the pace.