European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal said Monday that picking Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium – along with England’s Ian Poulter – as his wild-card selections is not a gamble.
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The 32-year-old Poulter will be competing in his fourth Ryder Cup since making his debut in 2004 while Colsaerts will be playing in his first and is the only rookie on Olazabal’s squad.
”It is true Nicolas is going to be the only rookie on the team but we do have an experienced team,” said Olazabal. ”Out of the 12 players, 11 have played Ryder Cup. They have proven they can handle that pressure. They have the experience so we do have a very solid team.
”He’s had a very solid season and on top of that he has made the extra effort trying to make the team, and he really showed me that he wanted to be part of that team and that is the reason I chose him.”
Colsaerts was 12th in the European Ryder Cup table, two places outside of automatic qualification. His commitment to the team was evident when he played in the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina and then crossed the Atlantic to tee up in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles last weekend in an attempt to secure qualification.
Colsaerts, who was staying with friends in a nearby village, said he got a call from Olazabal late Sunday night when the Spaniard invited him to attend the Gleneagles Hotel where he was staying ahead of the announcement.
He will be the first Belgium-born player to compete in the 85-year history of the competition.
”Well I know my phone has not stopped ringing but I do hope this is going to put golf in a better position in (Belgian) people’s minds, people’s heads,” he said. ”Golf is not a very popular sport back home, and not much as it is over here in Scotland.
”I would like to think that some of the young guys are going to go play tournaments abroad and feel like they are part of a bit of the golfing culture, just because I’ve finally put the Belgian flag on the map.”
For Poulter, it is the second time he has needed a wild-card selection after also getting one in 2008.
Poulter also learned of his selection late on Sunday night after finishing in a share of 36th place in The Barclays tournament in New York.
”I am just thrilled to get the call last night from Jose which 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,” Poulter said.
United States captain Davis Love III will announce his four wild-card picks on Sept. 4 in New York.
The Ryder Cup is Sept. 28-30 at the Medinah Country Club in Chicago.
Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Paul Lawrie, Graeme McDowell, Francesco Molinari, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Peter Hanson and Martin Kaymer also are on the European team.