Paul McGinley Names Europe's 2014 Ryder Cup Captain's Picks

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistSeptember 2, 2014

NORTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Luke Donald of England picks up his ball after making his putt on the 13th hole during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at the TPC Boston on September 1, 2014 in Norton, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Update from Wednesday, Sept. 3

Paul McGinley named Team Europe's Ryder Cup vice-captains on Wednesday, 24 hours after he confirmed the 12 names charged with the job of beating their US counterparts.

Sky Sports provided news of McGinley's appointments:



Team Europe captain Paul McGinley has made his picks for this year's Ryder Cup, naming Ian Poulter, Stephen Gallacher and Lee Westwood in the overall group of 12.

The news was confirmed via Team Europe's official Twitter feed:

McGinley's decision was no easy one. He had a particularly strong quintet of options to choose from, with Luke Donald a notable exclusion from the final European team.

Perhaps McGinley's easiest choice was Poulter. A naturally combative player, Poulter's competitive heckles are always best stirred by the gladiatorial nature of individual match play at Ryder Cups.

The Englishman saves his best for this cup and it shows. Poulter's Ryder Cup record is commendable, as detailed by an Associated Press report from

He has 12 wins from 15 matches, and is on a seven-match winning streak -- the last four coming at the 'Miracle in Medinah' in 2012 when Europe came from 10-6 down on the final day to retain the cup.

Back at that unforgettable 2012 showdown, Poulter was credited as the "heartbeat" of the team by Donald, per BBC Sport. He started his team's revival from 10-4 down at the Country Club in Illinois.

There's a strange dichotomy about Poulter: He'll often be sluggish at Tour events, but always seems to be roused from his slumbers by the Ryder Cup. He's almost become a good-luck charm for Team Europe, one the overall squad might have felt battle-shy without.

The Ryder Cup brings out the best in Poulter.
The Ryder Cup brings out the best in Poulter.USA TODAY Sports

However, McGinley's final two selections wouldn't have been so easily made. Sky Sports detailed the captain's view of Gallacher, Donald and Westwood, prior to the selections being announced:

Speaking to Sky Sports about Gallacher at the conclusion of the Italian Open, McGinley said: 'The gun was to his head but he performed very strongly. All credit to him. It's unfortunate he's come up one shot short of being an automatic in the team.'

McGinley played alongside Westwood in 2002, 2004 and 2006, with Donald in 2004 and 2006 and just once with Poulter (2004) but he was also vice-captain in 2010 and 2012 when all three players helped Europe claim narrow wins at Celtic Manor and Medinah, Poulter playing the starring role in the latter victory.

Westwood's problem has never really been with the Ryder Cup. He's done fairly well in major tournaments but is a most reliable figure in head-to-head matches.

Given McGinley's familiarity with Westwood and the rapport he's had with Poulter in previous editions of the cup, it's no surprise Westwood made the grade.

Luke Donald won't get to continue his solid history with the Ryder Cup.
Luke Donald won't get to continue his solid history with the Ryder Cup.USA TODAY Sports

But it's the decision to leave Donald out that will surprise many. The shock will be due to his solid history in the Ryder Cup, detailed by Daily Mail reporter Chris Cutmore:

Donald has been an integral part of recent European Ryder Cup success, and has been on the winning team in all four Ryder Cups he has played in - the only man to enjoy such a record. Donald has also never lost a foursomes match in the competition.

However, even with a celebrated past, it was understandably tough for McGinley to overlook Donald's recent form. He has achieved just "one top-35 finish in his last nine starts," per James Corrigan of The Telegraph.

Those are not the kind of numbers a captain wants to take into a Ryder Cup, where a single dropped point can alter the balance of power dramatically. Donald's struggles speak of a golfer lacking confidence.

That's not something that appears to be troubling Gallacher. The Scot narrowly missed automatic qualification for the team when he fell one shot short at the recent Italian Open.

However, the near miss couldn't dampen the positive buzz around the player, and also offered proof of his ability to deal with pressure, per Ewan Murray of The Guardian. Gallacher's efforts in Italy marked his 14th top-35 finish on Tour duty this year, per

His place on the team is a fitting reward for such a fine season. The Ryder Cup rookie had been a strong contender to usurp one member of the more experienced trio also in McGinley's thoughts, according to the AP report from

A slew of top-10 finishes this year may have helped the 39-year-old Scotsman lock down a wild-card selection for a Ryder Cup debut in his home country, leaving Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter competing for two spots when McGinley announces his picks at the European Tour headquarters at Wentworth on Tuesday.

The decision to give Gallacher his chance is McGinley's first deviation from the sanctity of experience. After giving the nod to that quality by opting for Poulter and Westwood, McGinley has backed a newbie to deliver at Gleneagles.

The 39-year-old Gallacher may be a Ryder Cup debutant, but he is certainly the form player. In that sense, he provides a balance to McGinley's wild-card picks. In Poulter he has a fighter who will relish the challenge of head-to-head match play.

While Westwood's form has been ailing, he's an old head in Ryder Cups and McGinley will know he can trust him to handle the high-pressure environment. Gallacher is the calculated risk that a player on a hot streak golfing on home soil at Gleneagles will continue his rich vein of form when it matters most.

Now the tables will turn to Team USA captain Tom Watson. His picks are scheduled to be announced later on Tuesday, with Sky Sports reporter Paul Higham offering a few tips:

Watson must get it right, because McGinley has assembled a strong and diverse team. The elite talent of a golfer such as Rory McIlroy will mesh with the fight of Poulter and Westwood, while Gallacher lives up to the wild-card name.