Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn calls wildcard Sergio Garcia 'heartbeat' of Team Europe

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Europe captain Thomas Bjorn has handed Ryder Cup wild cards to Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson.

The quartet join automatic qualifiers Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Alex Noren and Thorbjorn Olesen, Justin Rose, Francesco Molinari and Rory McIlroy in the Europe team.

Bjorn will be hoping those 12 men can regain the trophy from the United States at Le Golf National in Paris from September 28-30.

With five rookies in the eight automatic choices, Bjorn has stacked his captain’s picks with experience.

Garcia’s selection is perhaps the most contentious as his form has been poor this year, missing the cut at all four majors, but the Dane insists his contribution in the locker room will be just as important as on the golf course.

He said: “You’ve got to look at Sergio in certain ways. He is the heartbeat of the team, it like a football team going without a captain.

“Not only is he a fantastic golfer, but he also makes everyone around him better.

“He is what is great about the European team room, he is everything that European Ryder Cup is about.

“I watched him as a player and I watched him as a vice-captain and there is just something about him.”

Poulter’s selection is no surprise owing to his brilliant record in the competition, winning 12 of his 18 Ryder Cup matches while he also won on the PGA Tour earlier this year.

Bjorn added: “When he won in Houston, I thought he was on the track to be part of this team. The thing about Ian is when he gets confident and gets believing… I met him in the parking lot in Augusta he was like, ‘Right, I’m going to be there, I’m going to be part of your team’.

“That’s what he is all about, doing it on the big stage, he is a man for the occasion, he really is just a special person.

“The way he kept playing and kept talking that this was his only main focus, he was back in that frame of mind we like seeing.”

Casey makes his return to the European side for the first time in a decade, having regained his European Tour card last year in a bid to make the side.

Bjorn described his pick as a “no-brainer”, saying: “Paul’s commitment in what he was wanting to do, he has really shown that he has missed this part of his life and with a it really was a no-brainer for me to bring him back.

“He is world class, this is what he does, he brings world class golf to the team and he is a wonderful match player too, so it’s great to have him back.”
2016 Open winner Stenson made up the wild cards, despite suffering from injury recently.

“As soon as I knew what his focus was, it really wasn’t a big problem for me to pick him,” the captain said.

“The stature that he has, the person he is, the calmness he brings to the team room, he is very good at looking after the youngsters.

“He’s a very good guy to have around and he is a strong player.

“If I had written down 12 names before I started y captaincy it wouldn’t have been far away from this, I am very delighted with this team, I am proud to captain these 12 players. ”

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Tiger Woods savours recall to American Ryder Cup team

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Tiger Woods admitted it was “beyond special” to be set for an eighth Ryder Cup appearance after being named as a wild card by US captain Jim Furyk.

Furyk sprung no surprises as he named Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Woods as his first three wild cards, the trio having finished ninth, 10th and 11th in qualifying respectively.

But playing well enough to fully justify his place in the side is still a remarkable achievement by Woods, who underwent spinal fusion surgery in April last year and was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence the following month when he was found asleep at the wheel of his car.

The 42-year-old, who had five prescription drugs in his system, later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and will spend a year on probation and undergo a diversion programme.

Woods only returned to competitive golf in November but has been impressive ever since, recording five top-10 finishes and missing just two halfway cuts, with sixth place in the Open at Carnoustie and second in the US PGA removing any lingering doubts about his place on team.

Since making his debut in 1997, Woods has compiled a poor record in the event with 13 wins, 17 defeats and three halved matches, while he was a vice-captain to Davis Love III during the 2016 victory at Hazeltine.

“I made my first team at Valderrama and it was a great learning experience to see the passion that one of our late, great team leaders in Payne Stewart showed for the event,” Woods said.

“He made me understand how important the Ryder Cup is and from that moment on I always wanted to be part of each and every team.

“I haven’t been part of the team playing-wise for six years. I served as vice-captain a couple of years ago and that was absolutely incredible to be part of the team, to try to help these young guys in any way I could. This year, to be able to play again is beyond special.”

Woods had been scheduled to be a vice-captain at Le Golf National in Paris and Furyk announced he had therefore added David Duval, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar to his backroom staff, joining Love and Steve Stricker.

“Tiger and I spent time as partners, we’ve spent a lot of time as vice-captains talking strategy, talking pairings,” Furyk said. “It’s been great to have his help and get a little feel of one of the best minds in the history of the game on your side, helping you out.

“We’re all excited to see him healthy again. It’s a feather in our cap to have him playing on our side.”

Mickelson had to rely on a wild card for the first time in his career and has won 18, lost 20 and halved seven of his 45 matches. Only Furyk himself has lost as many in the competition.

DeChambeau will make his debut in Paris but is in brilliant form after back-to-back wins in the first two FedEx Cup play-off events. Tony Finau is favourite to get the final wild card on September 10 after finishing 15th in qualifying and second and fourth behind DeChambeau.

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Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau named in US Ryder Cup team

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Tiger Woods was named to the United States’ Ryder Cup team on Tuesday as captain Jim Furyk also added veteran Phil Mickelson and in-form Bryson DeChambeau to his line-up.

Former world number one Woods had already been assured of a trip to Paris for the September 28-30 showdown with Europe after being named as one of Furyk’s non-playing vice-captains.

However Woods’ form since his return to golf this year prompted Furyk to award him one of the four captain’s picks set aside for players who did not qualify automatically for the team.

Mickelson and DeChambeau filled the other two captain’s picks announced by Furyk on Tuesday.

The US captain will announce his final place on the defending champions’ team next week, with Tony Finau regarded as the front-runner for the position.

There had been little suspense surrounding Furyk’s announcement on Tuesday.

Woods, 42, will be playing in his eighth Ryder Cup and makes his first appearance since the 2012 event.

The 14-time major champion signalled his return to form last month with an electrifying second-place finish at the PGA Championship.

Mickelson meanwhile was regarded as a likely pick for what will be his 12th Ryder Cup appearance.

The 48-year-old reminded Furyk of his quality with a dazzling eight-under-par 63 in the final round of the Dell Technologies Championship on Monday.

DeChambeau, 24, had virtually guaranteed himself one of the captain’s picks after storming to victory in the opening two legs of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoff series, winning the Northern Trust and Dell Technologies Championship.

The United States will be chasing their first Ryder Cup victory on European soil in 25 years when they face Europe at Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines outside Paris.

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