NICK FALDO – CAPTAIN
Played 11, Matches 46, W23, L19, H4, Total 25, Point % 0.54
Faldo is very much his own man. During his playing days he was known for being ruthless and self-motivated. He won 6 majors and 27 European Tour titles and is the leading European points scorer in the Ryder Cup. Already Faldo has stated his intent by naming Faldo and Casey as his wild card choices, and leaving out Monty and Clarke. He has a young squad who he can manage how he likes without the potential conflict in the dressing room with the likes of Montgomerie. The players seem to have a lot of respect for their captain, it will be interesting to see how they go about taking on the Americans under his guidance.
Padraig Harrington (1999-2002-04-06)
Played 4, Matches 17, W7, L8, H2, Total 8, Point % 0.47
Padraig has had an outstanding season this year. Boosted by his Open win last July he has captured two more Majors since and stands at Number 3 in the world. His Ryder Cup record is a good one, taking nearly 50% of his points, he will be a key figure this year with many of the young Europeans looking up to him. Faldo has already highlighted his importance as one of the main figureheads of the team.
Sergio Garcia (1999–2002-04-06)
Played 4, Matches 20, W14, L4, H2, Total 15, Point % 0.75
Sergio is coming into the Ryder Cup in Great form. He had a spell on the European Tour before the Open and showed his class by finishing 2nd in the European Open behind a faultless Ross Fisher. A poor final round in the Open dampens a great return at the Majors this year and his world ranking of 4 shows this. Sergio has Ryder Cup blood in him and has one of the best point returns. Never fails to entertain and you can be sure every European player will want to partner him in the foursomes.
Lee Westwood (1997-99-2002-04-06)
Played 5, Matches 25, W14, L8, H3, Total 15.5, Point % 0.62
Westwood is another European player carrying form. Currently stands at 12th in the world after having his best season on the PGA Tour. He’s finished inside the top 3 twice in the States this year and never shows any fear against the ‘big guys.’ His Ryder Cup record is a good one and he will be the most experienced European on the team this year.
Henrik Stenson (2006)
Played 1, Matches 3, W1, L1, H1, Total 1.5, Point % 0.50
Stenson’s first Ryder Cup appearance at the K-Club was a steady one, he is quite but determined and will want to taste success again at Valhalla. He has been one of the most consistent performers on the European Tour in the last four years and his finishes of 17th, 3rd and 4th at the Masters, US Open and Open Championship respectively this year prove his form. He’s had ten top-10 finishes from 15 events this year and his world ranking is 6. Bringing that momentum into the Ryder Cup this year will be a great benefit to the team.
Robert Karlsson (2006)
Played 1, Matches 3, W0, L1, H2, Total 1, Point % 0.33
Karlsson finished inside the top-20 in all four majors this year. He didn’t win a match at the K Club in 2006 but fought for two halves in the foursomes. He will be looking to improve on his Ryder Cup record and with his short game as hot as it is at the moment he will be tough to beat.
Miguel Angel Jiménez (1999-2004)
Played 2, Matches 4, W1, L3, H0, Total 1, Point % 0.25
Miguel Angel Jiménez is a European Tour stalwart. One of the real characters on tour that always brings a spark to the Ryder Cup. He won the tour’s signature event this year, the BMW Championship at Wentworth in what is his best year to date. In his two Ryder Cup appearance he has only accumulated one point so will be keen to establish himself among his fellow Spaniard heroes Sergio Garcia and the legend José Maria Olazábal.
Graeme McDowell (Rookie)
Graeme is enjoying some good form going into the Ryder Cup. He features more often than not on tour and has been a certainty on the European team for a while now. With a similar stature to Ian Woosnam he could easily be mistaken for the great Ryder Cup player and captain. If he can put in the performances the Woosnam did he will be a Ryder Cup certainty for a long time. Top-20’s in the last two majors show he can play on the big stage.
Justin Rose (Rookie)
Surprisingly he makes his Ryder Cup debut this year at Valhalla. Justin came to the forefront of the European Tour after his capture of the Volvo Masters and consequently order of Merit at Valderamma last season. He started a subdued tour career in America but has since found his feet to become a world top-15 player. 9th at the PGA is his best Major finish this season and he is going to Valhalla in good form after a solid 5th place at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
Søren Hansen (Rookie)
Has earned his place on the European Team after two of his best seasons on the European Tour. Seven top-10s this season alone, with two of those in the last two events are a positive sign, however his major record is an area for improvement. It will be interesting to see how he performs under the scrutiny of the Ryder Cup.
Oliver Wilson (Rookie)
Oliver is enjoying his best year on tour to date and four 2nd place finishes this season are encouraging. He is however still seeking his first tour win suggesting he will need encouragement from his teammates to help him over the line at Valhalla. With age on his side he could be a Ryder Cup regular over the next decade. Maybe success in the team format is what he needs to boost his confidence for more wins on tour.
Paul Casey* (2004–06)
Played 2, Matches 6, W3, L1, H2, Total 4, Point % 0.66
Although he didn’t qualify for the team outright he was never a doubt to be the Captains pick. Tee –to-green Casey has been faultless all year and a good putting display at The Barclays secured the place for Faldo. He enters Valhalla on a roll of three top-10s from five of his last appearances. Two years ago he showed no compassion when beating Furyk in the singles, four up at the turn he held out for a 2&1 victory. It will be interesting to see whom Casey pairs up with in the foursomes, as is usual partner Howell is absent this year.
Ian Poulter* (2004)
Played 1, Matches 2, W1, L1, H0, Total 2, Point % 0.50
Controversy surrounded Poulter’s selection for this year’s team. Never a man to shy away form the spotlight he should take this opportunity to prove to all his doubters that he can provide a significant contribution to winning the Cup again. Faldo picked Poulter on his performance in the back-9 at Birkdale this year. He said his desire to win at that stage showed his determination and that is what is needed in his Ryder Cup team. Poulter is a man for the big occasion and it comes no bigger than the Ryder Cup, he can polish his feathers and parade like a peacock in an arena that will suite his style.
* Denotes Nick Faldo’s Wild Card Pick’s.