AThe first tee was next to the trophy for the BMW PGA Championship, the Ryder Cup, an indication that this flagship tournament of the European Tour should primarily be about who will finish last in the European selection for the golf duel backs up against the United States team.
After all, on Sunday five European professionals had the chance to secure one of the four open qualification places at the last minute on the West Course of the Wentworth Club in Virginia Water (England) – or at least with a strong performance for one of the three “captains” Picks ”, the wild cards that the Irish captain Padraig Harrington can give at his own discretion.
Trouble about not being nominated
But none of the candidates for the “Euro Team” could intervene in the race for the prize money of $ 1.335 million. At the end of this traditional tournament, which has been held since 1955, the winner was the American Billy Horschel, of all people, whom the American Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker had not taken into account when awarding his six free tickets.
The 34 year old professional from Jacksonville Beach (Florida) relegated Thai Kiradech Aphibarnat, English Laurie Canter and Welsh Jamie Donaldson (all 270 strokes) to second place with a birdie on the 18th hole and a final round of 65 and a total of 269 strokes.
Horschel, who moved up from 28th to 18th in the world rankings with this victory, made clear his anger about not being considered for Team USA after the triumph: “I am devastated that I was not called. At least I should have been told that I would not be nominated. ”After all, the 2014 FedExCup winner had won the WGC World Matchplay in the spring and thus proved how strong he can do in match play, the format of the Ryder Cup.
Even before the last qualifying tournament, the Spanish world number one Jon Rahm, the Norwegian Viktor Hovland and the Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood and Paul Casey had secured a place in the team. Almost two weeks before the Europeans defend the Ryder Cup in Wisconsin, none of the “Euros” could shine, especially since Rahm, McIlroy and Casey did not want to travel from America to Europe for a week after the FedExCup final.
Decision against Justin Rose
On Sunday the Englishmen Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood as well as the Austrian Bernd Wiesberger qualified directly for the greatest spectacle in golf. All four were placed under “also ran”. Fitzpatrick and Wiesberger did the best, finishing in twentieth place. “It was a lifelong goal for me to be part of the European team, and I’m proud that I’ve done enough to get into the team,” said Wiesberger, who will be the first Austrian to play for the European team.
On Sunday evening, Captain Harrington gave his three “Captain’s Picks” to the Spaniard Sergio García, the Englishman Ian Poulter and his Irish compatriot Shane Lowry, the 2019 British Open winner. Especially the decision for the 34-year-old Lowry, who on 17th place narrowly missed the automatic qualification, Harrington was not easy. Because with the Englishman Justin Rose, an experienced and successful Ryder Cup veteran, one of the candidates triumphed on Sunday with a final round of 65 strokes. However, that was only enough for sixth place.
The 2016 Olympic champion should have won to qualify directly for the team. “I’m glad I don’t have to choose the picks,” said Martin Kaymer, who finished 25th in Wentworth. The 35-year-old Rhinelander will assist Harrington on the Whistling Straits Straits Course as one of the “Assistant Captains”. The 50-year-old Harrington, who like Poulter failed at the cut, raved about his three picks. They are the strongest who have ever joined the team this way.
“I’m absolutely thrilled with my team,” said Harrington – even though a number of team members at the European Tour headquarters disappointed. Fleetwood, one of the heroes of the last Ryder Cup in Paris, took twelfth place as the best. Hovland, the first Norwegian in the Ryder Cup, finished in 49th place. The 48-year-old veteran Westwood fell back to 71st place with a final round of 77 strokes, not a good omen for his eleventh participation in this prestigious duel.