José María Olazábal has named Nicolas Colsaerts and Ian Poulter as his two wild cards to complete the 12-man European Team who will seek to retain The Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club next month.
The inclusion of Colsaerts and Poulter means that Europe will have just one rookie in the team for only the third time since 1979 when they travel to Chicago for the biennial match against the United States from September 28-30.
That rookie is Colsaerts, who will make history as the first Belgian to compete in The Ryder Cup. The 29 year old won the Volvo World Match Play Championship in May, defeating Graeme McDowell in the final, and collected a further nine top nine finishes through the qualifying campaign.
Poulter will be playing in his fourth Ryder Cup after being part of the winning teams in 2004 and 2010 and on the losing side in 2008. He has a record of played 11, won eight and lost three. Winner of both of 2010 WGC – Accenture Match Play and 2011 Volvo World Match Play, Poulter has had nine top tens in the qualifying period including victory in the 2011 JBWere Masters.
“I think every one of you pretty much guessed that Ian was going to be there,” admitted Olazábal during the conference held at the Gleneagles Hotel, host venue for The 2014 Ryder Cup.
“He's had a great Ryder Cup record. He was playing well, he had some issues early in the season. He got ill and he couldn't play as much as he could, but his attitude and his spirit in The Ryder Cup team has always been great. He's one of those players who likes to be in that situation.
“I think he gets the best out of himself playing The Ryder Cup. The two times I had the opportunity to share a few moments with him at Valhalla and Celtic Manor, you didn't need to motivate him. Just by looking at his eyes you could see he would give everything he had during that week.
“And Nicolas, obviously he's a rookie. If you look at the team, he's going to be the only rookie on the team. We do have an experienced team. His match play record is very good. He finished runner up last year at the World Match Play and he won this year at the World Match Play.
“He's had a very solid season, and on top of that, he's made the extra effort trying to make the team. He really showed me that he wants to be a part of that team. Those are the reasons for me to pick him.”
Poulter immediately gave his reaction when, speaking on the phone from America, he said: “I was thrilled. To get the call last night from José was a great moment, and I'm going to be thrilled to, again, pour some passion over the holes at Medinah and I'll try my best.”
Colsaerts had changed his travel plans to await decision, but in the end Olazábal gave him the good news last night. The first Belgian was obviously delighted to join the team as his Captain embraced him at the conference today.
“This has been something I've wanted since I was a little kid,” he said. “To be part of such a big team with a captain with such great history is something I'm very proud of.”
The completed team now includes eight of the 12 players who helped steer Europe to a dramatic 14 ½ - 13 ½ victory two years ago at The Celtic Manor Resort.
It is also the first time that the European team has been formed of its 12 leading players in the Official World Ranking with every player inside the world’s top 35.
US Captain Davis Love III will announce his four wild cards on September 4 in New York after the first eight members of his team were confirmed after the US PGA Championship.