Ryder Cup: Europe wildcards to play United States are Poulter, Garcia & Lowry

Padraig Harrington Shane Lowry
Captain Padraig Harrington says former Open champion Shane Lowry is a rookie only in name

Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry will play for Europe in this month's Ryder Cup against the United States after being named as wildcards by captain Padraig Harrington.

Garcia is the record points scorer while Poulter has been a talisman in his six previous appearances.

Lowry joins Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger as one of three debutants.

"I am absolutely thrilled with my team, we have the strongest 10, 11 and 12 we've ever had," said Harrington.

World number one Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Hovland and Wiesberger all qualified through the rankings.

Englishman Justin Rose was among those to miss out despite a fine finish at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, where he eagled the par-five 18th to finish joint sixth on 16 under par.

Harrington said: "I would have been happy with him there but it was one spot too far.

"The fact of the matter is, with who he was going up against, the consistency of Shane, the heart of the team has been Ian and Sergio over the years, somebody had to lose out.

"I'm delighted for Bernd Wiesberger. He's a great player and anybody who makes their way into the team fully deserves it, but ultimately it was a spot gone that could have gone to a JR or an Alex Noren."

Speaking before the announcement was made, Rose said: "It would be disappointing. You reflect on why. Is there something bigger at play because on the surface I feel pretty confident."

Europe, who have won nine of the past 12 Ryder Cups, are the defending champions after beating the US 17½-10½ at Le Golf National in France in 2018. Seven of that team will play in this year's contest at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin from 24-26 September.

Poulter's inclusion means half of the 12-strong team are English.

"It's surreal. To know we are going to go again is amazing," said the 45-year-old, who has now made the team for the fifth time as a wildcard pick.

"This trophy has meant a lot to me through the years. For Paddy to call me and say 'I want you to be part of my team', it's emotional.

"It's an honour to get a pick. The focus the next seven days gets ramped up. The mindset changes, the phone goes off, not so much social media until it's go time."

In explaining why he picked Poulter, Harrington said: "He is undefeated in singles. He lifts himself, he lifts his partners, he lifts the team.

"I'm getting a player who is in probably the best form of his life. He consistently motivates people around him. That's so important to the team. I know I have players who are good enough to deliver and Poulter is at the heart of our team."

On Spaniard Garcia, who is the record points scorer in the biennial event, with 25½ from nine previous appearances, Harrington said he is "relying on him to be a team leader".

"It's the passion he brings to the team. He enjoys mentoring the younger players. I've seen what he brings to the other players," he said.

Garcia said: "I just can't wait to get there, see the guys and get going. To be able to win six Ryder Cups, to me that's more important than 25½ points. I would rather go 0-5 and win the Ryder Cup than 5-0 and lose. That's never going to change."

And on his fellow Irishman Lowry, who won the 2019 Open Championship, Harrington said: "It was an easy pick.

"Shane is a big-time player. He delivers consistently under pressure. He definitely delivered for me and all the vice-captains.

"We don't think of him as a rookie. He is one of our leading players."

A delighted Lowry said: "It's been a career-long dream. It was my number one goal for the last two years.

"I'm incredibly proud of what I have achieved. But there's no point going over there to make up the numbers. I want to win points and help bring the cup back."

Lowry would have replaced Westwood as an automatic qualifier with a top-eight finish at Wentworth and began Sunday in a tie for seventh, but slipped down the leaderboard with a final round of 71.

That meant Westwood, 48, claimed the final qualification spot, despite a poor finish, and will tie Sir Nick Faldo's record of 11 appearances.

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