Molinari eases Monty’s decision
Colin Montgomerie also chose three-time major winner Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald, who is No. 10 in the world ranking.
In one of the toughest choices for any European captain, Montgomerie had three picks for five worthy candidates. He had to leave off Paul Casey, who is No. 9 in the world and played on the last three teams, and Justin Rose, who won twice on the PGA Tour this summer at the Memorial and the AT&T National.
Montgomerie suggested that he had made up his mind about Molinari before he birdied the last three holes to win at Gleneagles.
“It made our job easier that he did win,” Montgomerie said. “What he achieved in three rounds was enough to tell us that this player was capable of handling the most incredible pressure so well.”
Far tougher was having to leave off Rose and Casey, who has won the World Match Play Championship in England and twice was runner-up in the Match Play Championship in Arizona. Making it worse, Casey and Harrington were playing together in the final round at The Barclays. They were on the sixth hole when Harrington’s wife gave him thumbs-up to signal he was on the team.
“Caroline is a great friend,” Casey said. “She would have said something to me if I had been picked. So at that point, I kind of knew that I hadn’t.”
It led to an awkward situation the rest of the round.
“It was very, very hard to stick to your job,” Harrington said. “It was never going to be easy on Monty.”
Montgomerie said Molinari, who birdied the last three holes to win on Sunday, is “the type of player we need to regain this Ryder Cup.”
“In my 24 years on the European Tour I have not seen a finish of that quality by anyone in such a pressure situation,” Montgomerie said.
“Having to come here and having to win what he did today was incredible. And to birdie the last three holes in the way that he did—the job in selecting the wild cards (was) very, very easy for us.”
Molinari joins his younger brother Francesco on Europe’s team. They will be the first brothers to play in the Ryder Cup together since Bernard and Geoffrey Hunt of England in 1967.
The Molinari brothers were a winning pair at golf’s World Cup in China last year and both will make their debuts against the United States at Celtic Manor in Wales from Oct. 1-3.
Montgomerie said Rose would get a place on the team in the event that Lee Westwood failed to recover in time from his calf injury.
Montgomerie also announced that Europe will have a fourth vice captain as Sergio Garcia agreed to join his staff.
The nine players who qualified on their own for the Ryder Cup team were Westwood, U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, PGA champion Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter, Ross Fisher, Francesco Molinari, Peter Hanson, Rory McIlroy and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
U.S. captain Corey Pavin is to announce his four picks on Sept. 7 in New York.