by Jeff Skinner
With all the talk of Tom Watson’s difficult choice of rounding out his Ryder Cup team with his difficult task of selecting or not selecting Tiger Woods his counterpart is also facing some tough calls.
The team is comprised of the four top players from the European Points List and the five top players from the World Points List who haven’t qualified off the European List. As it stands now Rory McIlroy, Victor Dubuisson, Jamie Donaldson and Henrik Stenson would qualify from the European List.
The five qualifiers from the World List currently are Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Thomas Bjorn and Luke Donald. That’s a fairly intimidating lineup.
And now a monkey wrench has been thrown at Captain McGinley. As if is job was difficult enough, there are those that think 56 year old, Champions Tour stalwart, Bernhard Langer deserves a spot on the team.
Langer has been on fire on the Champions Tour most recently lapping the field at the Senior British Open by thirteen strokes.
One of those who think McGinley should leave Langer on the senior circuit is the European Team’s points leader, Rory McIlroy. McIlroy says Langer is playing great but not against the toughest competition and the team dynamic would be threatened.
“I think the team dynamic is pretty good at the minute with the mix that we’ve got and to bring someone in that hasn’t spent much time around us mightn’t be the best,” he said.
“He (Langer) is not playing against the regular guys week in and week out but he’s playing great golf obviously and what he’s done this year, and Monty as well, has been fantastic. If they were to be involved as vice-captains or something then I’d be all for that, but I don’t think they should be on the team.”
I am all for a captain thinking outside the box and if selected Lager would bring a serious Ryder Cup history and certainly would be a great teammate. He could serve as part player, part coach and part mentor. But selecting Langer would be a stretch and look at the players that sit just outside of qualifying on both points list.
Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell, Joost Luiton, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Francesco Molinari and Lee Westwood are the group of players that are next in line in points and most likely to be tabbed by McGinley.
Ian Poulter with his vaunted Ryder Cup history and Graeme McDowell who is playing great golf are absolute locks. There is no way McGinley won’t select them. That leaves one pick left and Luiten, Jimenez, Molinari and even Westwood all deserve a shot and would bring plenty to the team.
If McGinley wants to pick a fifty-something the choice here is Jimenez who has been playing most of the season on the regular circuits trying to earn points to make the team.
When McGinley accepted the job as captain he knew it would require some tough decisions. But leaving Langer off the team isn’t one of them. There are a half dozen players who fought all season to earn points and selecting one of them will be the right call.
Would adding Langer to the team be exciting? Yes. Would it make headlines? Yes. Would Langer be an asset to the team? Yes. But Langer’s addition wouldn’t be any more advantageous than a Poulter, GMac, Miguel or any of the rest.
Langer on the team would be fascinating but Rory is probably right and I can’t see McGinley making that call.