Ryder Cup rookies: Where were they in '14

2016 09 Getty Images 505319446
RYDER CUP

Who would have expected that some of these players would be making their debut for Team Europe at the 2016 Ryder Cup?


But, two years on from Gleneagles and a combined 14 wins later, Danny Willett, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Chris Wood, Andy Sullivan, Matt Fitzpatrick and Thomas Pieters have made it to Hazeltine - with only the Belgian called up via a captain's pick.

How far have the half-dozen rookies come in that time though? We had a look...

Danny Willett


Italian Open - Previews

World ranking (21/09/14): 94
World ranking (26/09/16): 10
Pro wins since Gleneagles:
4
Top 10s since Gleneagles: 17
Money earned since Gleneagles: €7,682,897

Two years is a hell of a long time in golf, shown incredibly here by Willett. The Englishman nabbed his second European Tour win less than three months after the 2014 Ryder Cup at the Nedbank Golf Challenge and, since then, it’s been plain sailing.

Third at the 2015 WGC-Cadillac Match Play got him recognised on a global scale, as did co-leading the 2015 Open through 36 holes, before wins at the Omega European Masters and Omega Dubai Desert Classic were the perfect set up for the biggest win of all: the 2016 Masters.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello


Wyndham Championship - Round One

World ranking (21/09/14): 83
World ranking (26/09/16): 30
Pro wins since Gleneagles: 0
Top 10s since Gleneagles: 11 (plus 4 on PGA Tour)
Money earned since Gleneagles: €3,513,988

After the year he’s had, it’s hard to believe Cabrera-Bello still only has two European Tour wins to his name – the most recent of which came in February 2012.

The Spaniard has been exceptionally consistent over the course of the year with no fewer than five European Tour top fives – including beating Rory McIlroy to third place at the WGC-Dell Match Play – while he has also fared well in regular season PGA Tour events, finishing fourth at the Shell Houston Open and T5 at the Wyndham Championship.

Chris Wood


EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM - Day Two

World ranking (21/09/14): 115
World ranking 26/09/16): 32
Pro wins since Gleneagles: 2
Top 10s since Gleneagles: 13
Money earned since Gleneagles: €3,522,726

He may have won this year’s BMW PGA Championship – collecting a cheque for €833,330 in the process – but Wood arguably played better in 2015, where his Lyoness Open win was one of seven European Tour top fives.

Contrast that to the 2016 season, and Wood’s only other top five apart from Wentworth was third at the Nedbank Golf Challenge way back in December. Still, he’s comfortably ranked within the world top 40.

Andy Sullivan


Made in Denmark - Day 2

World ranking (21/09/14): 163
World ranking 26/09/16): 50
Pro wins since Gleneagles: 3
Top 10s since Gleneagles: 11
Money earned since Gleneagles: €3,669,296

Sullivan became the first person to record three victories on the European Tour in 2015 – a feat matched only by Rory McIlroy – as he soared to the top of the European Points List.

However, 2016 has been a different story, with only three top tens in 19 European Tour starts. Thankfully for the Englishman, they were in high purse events – Omega Dubai Desert Classic (T2), French Open (T5) and Scottish Open (T6) – ensuring he comfortably qualified for the team.

Thomas Pieters


Made in Denmark - Day 2

World ranking (21/09/14): 262
World ranking 26/09/16): 42
Pro wins since Gleneagles: 3
Top 10s since Gleneagles: 10
Money earned since Gleneagles: €2,280,800

With a Made in Denmark win that captain Darren Clarke couldn’t ignore, Pieters made it three European Tour wins in 12 months – the most of any player in that period – to seal his spot as the final wildcard pick for Hazeltine.

Two years ago, he was coming to the end of his first full season on the European Tour – where he finished a lowly 83rd in the Race to Dubai – and was No.262 in the world. Now, he’s comfortably inside the top 20 of the Race to Dubai and inside the world top 50. Not a bad couple of years at all, wouldn’t you say?

Matt Fitzpatrick


D+D REAL Czech Masters - Day 4

World ranking (21/09/14): 476
World ranking 26/09/16): 44
Pro wins since Gleneagles: 2
Top 10s since Gleneagles: 15
Money earned since Gleneagles: €3,094,139

However, Pieters’ achievement are likely to be trumped by this guy. After making the team, he tweeted: “Two years ago I was sat watching the Ryder Cup at home with no status on Tour… two years later and I’m in the team! Cannot wait!!!”

Fitzpatrick earned his card through Q-School in November 2014 and since then, he hasn’t looked back. He had four European Tour top threes before winning the British Masters last October and, after a T7 finish at this year’s Masters, he went on to win the Nordea Masters to all but secure his spot.

Ryder Cup rookies :: Who will perform best?


Which of the Ryder Cup rookies do you think will do the best at Hazeltine? Leave your thoughts in the 'Comments' section below.

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