The Ryder Cup is now less than a year away and last week, opposing captains Darren Clarke and Davis Love III met for media duties to mark one year until Team Europe and USA lock horns at Hazeltine.
It was an ageing Team Europe that won at Gleneagles in 2014 – only Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer and Victor Dubuisson were under 30 – and with Ryder Cup veterans Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter all having a poor 12 months since, is it time to look at bringing in a host of Ryder Cup rookies?
Here are five players who could be in the mix to make their Ryder Cup debuts at Hazeltine next year…
It’s been a fantastic 12 months for Willett, who has really kicked on since claiming his second European Tour win at the Nedbank Golf Challenge last December. Currently second in the Race to Dubai standings and the second highest-ranked English player in the world at No.25, Willett reached the semi-finals of the WGC-Cadillac Match Play and led the Open Championship after two rounds before finishing in a tie of sixth. But a week later, he won the Omega European Masters and two weeks ago, he made a great start to the Ryder Cup points with a third placed finish at the Italian Open.
The man with the most top fives on the European Tour this season made it No.6 this week after finishing fourth at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. That followed up his win at the French Open, while he also lost in a play-off to Soren Kjeldsen at the Irish Open in May. “Making the Ryder Cup is definitely a goal for me and there are a couple of big events coming up where I’m going to try and make a run at it,” Wiesberger told bunkered.co.uk last week.
After a top ten finish at the US Open earlier this year, the Irishman made himself fully known to the world after lifting the biggest title of his career at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, holding off Bubba Watson to win by two shots. Now world No.21, Lowry finished inside the top 20 in his first event that counts towards the Ryder Cup points list.
Will take up affiliate membership of the European Tour upon the conclusion of the Race to Dubai in order to try and fulfil his Ryder Cup dream. Despite disappointing in the FedEx Cup play-offs, the Swede earned his PGA Tour exemption by defeating Justin Rose in a play-off at the Memorial Tournament and also impressed at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA Championship, finishing T6 and T12 respectively. “I don’t think there’s a greater honour in golf than getting to represent Europe in the Ryder Cup, so that’s what I’m looking forward to,” Lingmerth told bunkered.co.uk.
With 2014 Ryder Cup debutant Stephen Gallacher struggling since Gleneagles, Warren is likely to be Scotland’s greatest hope of representation at Hazeltine next September. Currently ranked just outside the world top 50 at No.56, Warren hasn’t enjoyed the most successful of seasons – with a runner-up finish at the Qatar Masters and T4 at the Scottish Open his best results – but has boosted his profile on the world stage with appearances in three of the year’s four majors, where he made the cut in each start.
Other notable mentions for possible Ryder Cup debuts at Hazeltine include Tommy Fleetwood, Matt Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan, Thorbjorn Olesen and Chris Wood – with the latter three all winning within the last 12 months.
Ryder Cup picks :: Who’ll be in?
How many of the players listed above do you think will be in the team for the 2016 Ryder Cup? Leave your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section below.