Ryder Cup Wildcard Contenders: Team Europe

Padraig Harrington has three captain's picks for his Ryder Cup team, and here are some of the contenders that he could pick

Garcia and Poulter embrace at the 2018 Ryder Cup
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Padraig Harrington has three captain's picks for his Ryder Cup team, and here are some of the contenders that he could pick

Ryder Cup Wildcard Contenders: Team Europe 

Competition for places at the Ryder Cup as a captain's pick is extremely competitive on both teams, with experienced players with Ryder Cup pedigree battling against in-form golfers narrowly missing out on automatic qualification.

Some Ryder Cup stalwarts find themselves outside of the nine automatic qualifying places in the European team, making Padraig Harrington's task even tougher.

Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick, Lee Westwood, and Shane Lowry currently occupy the nine qualifying spots, though these aren't confirmed.

With just three captain's picks, Irishman Harrington will have to decide whether to opt for current form or tournament experience.

As events continue on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, European players could still find themselves in, or out, of the Ryder Cup team.

Consequently, there are a number of contenders on either side that are vying for those wildcard spots in Harrington's Ryder Cup team, but only a finite amount of available places.

The likes of Wiesberger, Perez and MacIntyre have all made great strides to get close to the team, although Harrington will likely go for experience in the form of Poulter, Garcia and Rose for his wildcards.

That would mean that veterans including Stenson and Molinari would miss out though, so it is set to be a tricky decision for the Irishman.

Ryder Cup Wildcard Contenders: Team Europe

Ian Poulter

Ian Poulter Wildcard Ryder Cup

Despite Ian Poulter's last professional win coming in 2018 at the Houston Open, the Englishman is a Ryder Cup stalwart perfect for the team element of the tournament.

He has won four out of the five Ryder Cups that he has been involved in, scoring an impressive 15 points in total.

Although Poulter sits outside of the automatic qualifying places quite comfortably, Harrington might deem his celebrations impossible to miss out on at a packed Whistling Straits.

We suspect he may have already been given the nod.

Probability of a pick: 10/10

Sergio Garcia

Sergio Garcia Ryder Cup Wildcard Contenders

Sergio Garcia is the Ryder Cup's record point scorer, with the Spaniard especially thriving in the fourballs and foursomes.

Like Poulter, Garcia hasn't done enough to force his way into the Ryder Cup team automatically just yet, though he still provides undeniable quality and unheralded experience in the tournament, leaving him virtually impossible to leave out.

Probability of a pick: 10/10

Justin Rose

Justin Rose Team Europe

Justin Rose has had a year to forget on the PGA Tour, as he narrowly missed out on the FedEx Cup Playoffs by finishing 126th on the points list - the top-125 play in the Playoffs.

However, the former World No. 1 has competed in five of the last six Ryder Cups, scoring a minimum of two points in each tournament.

The former World No.1 will be very difficult to leave out.

Probability of a pick: 9/10

Victor Perez

Victor Perez

Victor Perez is vying to head to the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits as a rookie, and is the definition of a wildcard pick, should Harrington choose him, because he competes on the European Tour, meaning the Americans might not know much about him.

The 28-year-old Frenchman isn't in the best form at the moment though, so he still has work to do in the final European Tour events before the Ryder Cup.

Probability of a pick: 7/10

Robert MacIntyre

Robert MacIntyre

Robert MacIntyre would also appear in the Ryder Cup as as rookie if Harrington picks him, and his first European Tour victory in November 2020 at the Aphrodite Hill Cyprus Showdown will improve his chances of selection.

The Scotsman is also still confident that a performance at the BMW PGA Championship will force his way automatically into the team, which seems his best bet after he failed to earn his PGA Tour card for 2022 in August.

Probability of a pick: 7/10

Shane Lowry

Shane Lowry

Shane Lowry is the only player on this list that is currently occupying an automatic qualifying spot, though his position seems a precarious one with a couple of weeks still remaining in the qualification process.

Being the only Irishman in contention for the Ryder Cup European team could potentially improve his chances though, with fellow countryman Padraig Harrington captain and selecting the final three players.

Probability of a pick if he fails to automatically qualify: 9/10

Francesco Molinari

Francesco Molinari Ryder Cup Team Europe Wildcard Contenders

Francesco Molinari has really struggled for form over the last couple of years, since his tremendous display at the 2018 Ryder Cup and his Open Championship win that same year.

The Italian became the first ever player to score five points at a Ryder Cup in 2018 at Le Golf National, and he has represented Europe on three separate occasions, winning all three times.

While he hasn't produced the same scintillating form in recent times, Harrington could take a gamble on Molinari and hope he rediscovers the form that saw him score five points at the Ryder Cup.

Probability of a pick: 7/10

Alex Noren

Alex Noren Ryder Cup

Alex Noren represented Europe at the Ryder Cup for the first time in 2018 where he holed a monster putt to beat Bryson DeChambeau in the singles.

While the Swede has struggled to kick on from that moment, three top-tens in 2021 proves Noren is finding his form again, which could be perfect timing for Harrington.

Probability of a pick: 7/10

Bernd Wiesberger

Bernd Wiesberger

Bernd Wiesberger is an eight-time European Tour winner, with his last victory coming in May at the Made in HimmerLand tournament.

The 35-year-old Austrian would be a Ryder Cup rookie if he makes the team via the captain's picks.

His form is also impressive this season, as he sits fifth on the European Ryder Cup points list, and tenth on the World points list.

Probability of a pick: 7/10

Henrik Stenson

Henrik Stenson Ryder Cup Contenders Wildcard Europe

A veteran of the Ryder Cup, Henrik Stenson has played in five of the last seven tournaments, including three consecutive tournaments from 2014 to 2018.

The Swede managed to score eight points in those three Ryder Cups, and would look to continue that tournament form on if selected for the European team this time around.

While Stenson isn't in the form he was five years ago, he has upped his game recently and certainly has the experience and know-how on how to perform at the Ryder Cup.

Probability of a pick: 8/10


Ryan has worked as a junior staff writer for Golf Monthly since 2021.