Ross Biddiscombe blogs about the announcement by European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley that his Captain's Picks for the event would be Stephen Gallacher, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter
Ryder Cup Blog – Captain’s Picks
It was tense in the ballroom at Wentworth today with a batch of VIPs and press locked inside to hear that Ian Poulter, Stephen Gallacher and Lee Westwood were the captain’s picks for Gleneagles.
The organisation of these events is so slick nowadays that when the Twittersphere claimed to have announced the picks a few minutes before the press conference began, it was a bit of a let down.
For the press, the announcement of the three picks is more about those who were NOT picked. McGinley told how he had informed everyone from Lee Westwood downwards (in terms of the Ryder Cup points list) not to expect a call until after teatime on Monday.
The Irishman actually played golf with vice-captains Des Smyth and Sam Torrance yesterday before sitting down and making his final decision on The Chosen Three.
The brains trust even heard a short presentation from some stats guys about all the contenders before McGinley showered, had dinner and then made some calls an hour or so after the Deutsche Bank tournament had finished in America.
The “you’re in” calls were easy, he said, but the “you’re out” ones were tough.
All in all, it was instinct that guided McGinley more than stats and current form, while simply being Scottish “was not massive” when it came to choosing Gallacher whose initial reaction on the phone was “That’s brilliant, wee man”.
The two most disappointed players who were closest to the team – Luke Donald and Francesco Molinari (our Irish capt STILL can’t quite pronounce his name correctly, “Francisco” is the closest he gets) – were disappointed, of course, but understanding.
“Go Europe” were Donald’s final words to McGinley who even made a call to Bernhard Langer “out of respect”.
So the general opinion from the press room was that Lee Westwood was the luckiest man in the golfing world and the man who once called Worksop his home realised that such decisions are “cold” while having a “real sense of pride” about being among the 12.
Live TV coverage, millions of pounds of sponsorship money on the line, the hopes and dreams of all those European fans were all on the line today.
And what an event the announcement really is. The news of the captain’s picks is now attended by almost more people than used to turn up at some of the early Ryder Cups in America! It is really another ‘tale of the unexpected’ – a pre-contest announcement that is the biggest sporting news of the day. And all this about a tournament that was on its knees just a generation ago.
Let’s now hope that Paul McGinley made the right three choices!
Ross Biddiscombe is the author of Ryder Cup Revealed: Tales of the Unexpected. For details, go to www.rydercuprevealed.com