European Captain Thomas Bjørn has selected Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson to complete his 12-player team for The 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National, France.
The four captain’s picks join Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Alex Noren, Thorbjørn Olesen, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose in Bjørn’s side to take on Jim Furyk’s United States team as Europe seeks to regain The Ryder Cup in Paris from September 28-30, 2018.
Casey, Garcia, Poulter and Stenson have a wealth of experience in the biennial contest with a combined total of 20 previous Ryder Cup appearances, the quartet contributing 48½ points to the European cause.
Garcia and Stenson are both Major Champions and will feature in the biennial contest for the ninth time and fifth time respectively, with Garcia only three points away from becoming Europe’s leading all-time points scorer.
Englishman Poulter has played a key role in four wins from his five previous appearances, including the streak of three consecutive European victories in 2010, 2012 and 2014, while his compatriot Casey returns to the Ryder Cup arena after an absence of ten years, having played in three successive Ryder Cups from 2004 to 2008, contributing to two European victories.
Bjørn said: “These four were desperate to be part of The Ryder Cup and as soon as they got the call, their minds went straight to, ‘right, we’ve got to achieve something in Paris’.
“I always say there are players who want to be in The Ryder Cup team, and there are players who want to play in The Ryder Cup. These four players want to play in the Ryder Cup. They want to be on the golf course and win points.
“It makes me very happy to see this group of 12. I believe that together we can do great things.
“If I had written down 12 names before I started my captaincy journey, it wouldn’t have been far away from this. I’m very delighted with this team and I’m very proud to be captain for these 12 players. They bring so much to European golf, and they are just a fantastic group of guys.
“We know what we are up against. We know what America brings, but I’m confident that this is the group of guys that can do the job.”
‘Tip of the iceberg’ for Casey
Casey is back in the European Team for the first time in a decade after returning to winning ways in the United States at the Valspar Championship, with a further five top ten finishes worldwide in 2018. The 41 year old started his Ryder Cup career in fine fashion in 2004, teaming up with David Howell to defeat Furyk and Chad Campbell in the Saturday fourballs as Europe sealed a record-equalling 18½-9½ win at Oakland Hills Country Club. The 13-time European Tour winner went on to win five points from nine matches across his three Ryder Cup appearances.
Casey said: “It’s been ten years since I last played a Ryder Cup. I’ve put a lot in to this, so to stand here confirmed as part of this team is amazing, I’m very honoured. It’s great to play for Captain Bjørn and I’m very excited.
“I’ve had ups and downs in my career. At times I’ve questioned the success I would have in the future, but I’ve stayed very consistent and focused on what I was doing. I’ve played very, very good golf in the last three, four, five years and put The Ryder Cup in the crosshairs and made it a very big goal. I re-joined the Tour and right now I’m playing some of the best golf I’ve ever played.
“I only wanted to be a part of the team if I felt I could be a great contributor, which I know I can be. Once I announced my intentions to Thomas it was full-tilt. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We have to push on and go to Paris and win and I’m excited to get back to somewhere I feel I belong.”
Garcia has contributed 22½ points in his eight previous Ryder Cup appearances and is joint fifth on the list of all-time European points scorers. The Spaniard, who won the Masters Tournament in 2017, has been part of five victorious European teams, and has a particularly impressive foursomes record, having won nine and halved three of his 15 matches in the format.
Garcia said: “It feels amazing. I’m very thankful to Thomas for believing in me. I know that it probably wasn’t an easy decision, but he knows what I bring to the team, not only game-wise but inside the team room.
“It’s been a tough year. I’ve been working hard. I feel like my game is coming along. Obviously I played quite nicely in Greensboro a couple of weeks back, and now I’m trying to be as ready as I can be to help the European Team win that Cup back. That’s the goal and that’s what we want.
“It is very exciting for me to be part of another Ryder Cup team, and I’m going to give everything I have, not only on the golf course, but in the team room, to make sure that some of those rookies and some of the other guys feel as comfortable as possible and try to make them better and more comfortable. Hopefully that helps us all to get our goal, which is winning The Ryder Cup again.”
Mr Ryder Cup
Poulter has an enviable Ryder Cup record, winning 12 of his 18 matches, and he remains undefeated in the singles. He has enjoyed an impressive season, finishing just outside the automatic qualification spots with four top tens on the European Tour added to a victory at the Houston Open on the US PGA Tour.
The 42 year old has given European fans many memorable Ryder Cup moments, including his performance in 2012 at the Medinah Country Club when he won all four of his matches as Europe produced a famous comeback.
Poulter said: “This feels extra special to be part of another Ryder Cup Team. For Thomas to give me the call yesterday to say ‘I’d like you to join this great team’ means absolutely everything to me. It’s going to be an incredible spectacle.
“It is a very strong US team but when you look at the European Team on paper now I get goose bumps just standing here thinking about it.
“This Ryder Cup is everything to me and for me to know I am going to be part of that team, hopefully part of a victorious team, and to lift that trophy again, keeps me going.
“It has been a tough two years – 208th in the world rankings two years ago. That little gold trophy kept my heart beating and to be competing for that again is magical.”
Two-time Race to Dubai winner and 2016 Open Champion Stenson formed a formidable partnership with fellow Major winner Rose as Europe secured the last of three consecutive Ryder Cup wins in 2014. The pair were victorious in their three matches at Gleneagles, including a comprehensive 5&4 win over Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson in the Friday fourballs.
The Olympic silver medal winner has contributed eight points to the European cause over his four appearances, beginning with the 2006 victory at the K Club, with his most recent point a 3&2 defeat of Jordan Spieth in the Singles at Hazeltine.
Stenson said: “It means a lot to me. I’ve got some of the greatest memories of my career from being part of the European Ryder Cup team, so to get that phone call to be playing in Paris is incredible. I’m super-excited and I’m going to do my very best to show up with my best form possible.
“It’s going to be a great venue. Europe has one of the strongest teams we’ve ever had, so does America, so it’s all set for possibly the greatest battle ever.”
Le Golf National, France, will host The 2018 Ryder Cup from September 28-30, 2018, when Europe will try to regain the Ryder Cup following defeat at Hazeltine National two years ago. Bjørn’s team will be looking to extend an impressive winning record on home soil which stretches back to Valderrama, Spain, in 1997 – the first time the biennial contest was played on Continental Europe.