I have a Ryder Cup team question following Matt Fitzpatrick’s brilliant triumph at the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head in South Carolina.
Fitzpatrick denied defending champ Jordan Spieth with a birdie at the third extra hole on the host Sea Pines course, banking the cool $3.6m first prize cheque, $360,000 more than Jon Rahm won a week earlier in capturing the 87th hosting of the Masters.
With Rahm winning an Augusta green jacket and ‘Fitz’ being fitted with traditional plaid jacket at Hilton Head, 10 of the 21 PGA Tour this 2022/23 wraparound new season events since last September have been won by Europeans including:
4 – John Rahm (Sentry Tournament of Champions, American Express, Genesis Invitational and the Masters)
1 each – Rory McIlroy (CJ Cup), Seamus Power (Bermuda Championship), Viktor Hovland (Hero World Challenge), Justin Rose (AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am), Matt Wallace (Corales Putacana Championship) and Matt Fitzpatrick (RBC Heritage).
That’s half of the early season PGA Tour that’s produced a European-born winner.
When you look at both the ‘European’ and ‘World’ qualifying points table, five of the six on the two tables are those players that European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald unquestionably would want to be on his Rome side. The only player among those five not to have played in a Ryder Cup is Frenchman Victor Perez, currently third on the European Team table.
Of course, Donald has chosen to pick the leading three from both the European and World points tables, and the remaining six will be his ‘wildcard’ picks.
So, here’s my question with those six players leading one, two and three on both tables, and five definitely assured a seat on the charter flight to Rome (Sorry Victor), does it make it easier or tougher for Donald to choose his wildcard six?
With the majority of observers agreeing Donald is going to need prior Ryder Cup experience more so than a good rookie if he’s to win back the Ryder Cup, then his wildcard six you would think must come from the following pool of nine players listed in order as how they currently appear on the European table:
* Yannick Paul – 4th on European table & 15th on the World table
* Shane Lowry – 5th on European & 5th on the World
* Alex Noren – 6th on European & 8th on the World
* Adrian Otageui – 7th on European & 13th on the World table
* Tommy Fleetwood – 8th on European & 3rd on the World
* Tyrrell Hatton – 10th on European & 3rd on the World
* Viktor Hovland – 31st on European & 4th on the World
* Justin Rose – No European standing in the top-100 & 6th on the World
* Seamus Power – No European standing in the top-100 & 7th on the World
Donald’s team of the top-six qualifiers, if picked this week, would include: Rahm, McIlroy and Perez off the Europe table and being joined off the World table by Fitzpatrick, Hovland and Hatton. Add his wildcard half dozen and you have 11 players boasting 24 Ryder Cup caps, and a lone rookie.
And with 165 days until Europe faces the US in Rome, that is what is going to be required if Europe is to win back the Ryder Cup.
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