Ryder Cup 2018: Thomas Bjorn to get tattoo of Europe’s victorious scoreline

1 Oct

Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn promised to get a tattoo of the winning score should his team pull off an unlikely victory – a promise he wishes he never made.

The Europeans demolished Jim Furyk’s USA 17.5-10.5 to regain the trophy and spark wild celebrations in Paris.

Bjorn’s men were underdogs heading into the event

Bjorn is a man of his word and he has every intention of honouring his commitment, although the ink’s destination may be a private one.

“It was the worst decision I made all week,” a smiling Bjorn said. “Let me put it this way, it’s going to go on a part that only Grace [Bjorn’s partner] will see. I might have to send the players a picture.”

Ian Poulter and Tommy Fleetwood celebrate

Ian Poulter, one of Bjorn’s victorious European players, hailed the promise of a tattoo as added incentive to go and bring the trophy back to Europe.

He said: “I don’t know when it’s going to get done but we had some extra motivation this week to make sure we put our hands back on that trophy.

“As little or big as those numbers are going to be – they will be very interesting numbers to see.”

Ryder Cup 2018: European captain Thomas Bjorn selects four rookies for opening fourballs

27 Sep

Thomas Bjorn put faith in his Ryder Cup rookies as the pairings for Friday’s fourballs were announced.

Thorbjorn Olesen, Tyrrell Hatton, Jon Rahm and Tommy Fleetwood will all feature on the opening morning in Paris as Europe begin their bid to regain the famous trophy.

Bjorn announced his opening pairings

Justin Rose was handed the task of leading the European charge as Ian Poulter was left out of the opening session at Le Golf National.

Rose, who won £7.6million on Sunday by claiming the FedEx Cup title in Atlanta, partnered Henrik Stenson in the first match at Gleneagles in 2014 and at Hazeltine two years ago.

But the Olympic champion was handed a new partner in Spain’s Rahm for Friday’s opening fourballs match as Europe look to maintain an unbeaten record on home soil which stretches back to 1993.

Rose and Rahm will take on three-time major winner Brooks Koepka and wild card Tony Finau, with Rory McIlroy and Olesen facing world number one Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler in match two.

Rose has been given a new partner in Rahm

The all-English pairing of Paul Casey and Hatton then have the daunting task of taking on Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, with Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari having an equally tough task against ‘Captain America’ Patrick Reed and a rejuvenated Tiger Woods.

Woods claimed the Tour Championship on Sunday for his first tournament win since August 2013 and his 80th PGA Tour title.

The 42-year-old languished as low as 1,199 in golf’s world rankings less than a year ago following spinal fusion surgery, but completed a remarkable comeback at East Lake.

Woods received a rapturous applause at the opening ceremony

Woods has been on the winning side just once in seven previous appearances and has lost 17 of his 33 matches, but there was no place in the opening session for Europe’s Ryder Cup talisman Poulter, who has won 13 points from his 18 matches and was one of Bjorn’s four wild cards.

Bjorn expressed his pride at leading the team during the opening ceremony and although he did not specifically reference Brexit, the Dane appeared to make a pointed reference to the situation.

“This great continent can at times be a fragmented place, but when it comes to the Ryder Cup it’s different. When it comes to the Ryder Cup Europe stands as one,” Bjorn said.

“We will play with passion, we will play with commitment and we will play with pride, but more than anything else this week we will play for that flag.”

 

 

Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson get wildcard picks for Europe’s Ryder Cup team

5 Sep

Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson have been selected as wildcards by Europe captain Thomas Bjorn for the 2018 Ryder Cup.

Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter celebrate Europe’s Ryder Cup win in 2012

The experienced quartet join automatic qualifiers Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Tyrrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Alex Noren and Thorbjorn Olesen in the Europe team.

Bjorn will be hoping those 12 men can regain the trophy from the United States at Le Golf National in Paris from September 28-30.

Spanish favourite Garcia, the 2017 Masters champion, has been chosen for the team despite suffering possibly the worst season of his career to date – missing the cut at the US PGA Championship, the Masters, the US Open, and the Open.

More to follow…

Ryder Cup captain’s picks: How do you solve a problem like Sergio Garcia?

5 Sep

When asked about Sergio Garcia’s Ryder Cup chances before the US PGA Championship last month, Thomas Bjorn responded, quite simply: “Sergio is Sergio.”

He duly missed the cut. Just as he had done at the Masters, the US Open, and the Open.

Perhaps Sergio isn’t Sergio anymore. This is the first time in his career he’s failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup play-offs, missing a vital chance to prove himself, which others have taken in his absence.

Garcia has endured a nightmarish season

Of his 19 years as a PGA and European Tour member, this surely ranks as the single worst, and ahead of Wednesday’s Ryder Cup captain’s picks, his wildcard chances had looked very wild indeed.

Yet, reports suggest he is very likely to be selected. And rightly so.

Like an irritating fly, Garcia’s name will have buzzed around Bjorn’s mind and driven him crazy.

Only three of the Dane’s eight automatic qualifiers for Team Europe have ever won a Ryder Cup point. Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari have 24 combined.

“Bzzz. I’ve won 21-and-a-half on my own.”

There are already five rookies in the team. Europe took six to Hazzletine in 2016 and were thrashed 17-11. As Bjorn attempts to nail the hot/cold ratio in his European bath, he must balance form with experience.

Bjorn has a seriously tough decision to make

Ian Poulter will be there because he essentially is the Ryder Cup, and it would take a brave man to drop him or Henrik Stenson, both of whom enjoyed more-than-okay seasons and boast a wealth of expertise at the biennial event.

So, who are the contenders in the blue corner? The remaining spots will almost certainly be occupied by two of Garcia, Paul Casey, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Thomas Pieters and Matt Wallace.

There are as many arguments for each as there are against. Cabrera Bello, Mr Consistent, struck form at the weekend, finishing tied for seventh at the Dell Technologies. His Ryder Cup debut in 2016 was spirited.

Cabrera Bello struck up a fruitful partnership with compatriot Garcia in 2016

Thomas Pieters wasn’t bad at Hazzletine either. He set a new rookie record with four points on his debut and paired up excellently with McIlroy.

Casey, who rejoined the European Tour specifically to earn a spot, has unfinished business with the Ryder Cup after his infamous snub by Colin Montgomerie in 2010. It has been a decade since the world number 16 featured, but he remains one of the best ball strikers on the tour alongside Stenson, and both are perfectly suited to Le Golf National.

“Bzzz. My best performance this year came at Le Golf National. Pick me!”

It’s true: Garcia’s one decent tournament this season came at the Ryder Cup venue itself. He finished tied for eighth at the French Open, featuring a third round 64 which was actually the lowest anyone went all week.

Garcia won the Masters in 2017

But none of those guys have produced the sort of form that renders one undroppable.

Wallace has. A sensational back nine in Denmark on Sunday saw him secure a third win of the year as Bjorn, who promised to pick on form, watched on. Unfortunately for Wallace, there just isn’t room for another rookie.

Few arguments remain that can justify Garcia’s selection. Except the most important one: Sergio is Sergio. Bjorn was absolutely right to point that out, not only because it definitely is his name, but due to the fierce personality a Ryder Cup necessitates. It intimidates and it gobbles up the unexpecting golfer. Garcia’s presence on the golf course, or even at a dinner table, cannot be dismissed.

“Did you ever try to hit a golf ball without any oxygen in your system?” – Billy Casper on the opening shot of the 1967 Ryder Cup

Consistency makes way for the ability to produce the sublime in one specific, pressurised moment. Wallace may have won the Made in Denmark last Sunday, but Jim Furyk would much rather see him coming down the 18th than Garcia when it’s all square in Paris.

Garcia beat Furyk at the famous Miracle at Medinah in 2012

Furyk knows, having lost both his singles matches against Garcia quite recently, the influence which personality and history hold in this unique environment. If anyone can recover from a poor season to save Team Europe, it’s Sergio.

And boy, do they need saving. Poulter, Stenson, Casey and Garcia can strike fear into a USA team that currently has very little to be afraid of.

It is foolish to make today’s decisions based on previous years, but if this year has taught us anything, it’s that prematurely dismissing world class golfers is a mug’s game.

You can listen live on talkSPORT 2 from 2pm today to hear Thomas Bjorn name his final Ryder Cup team. talkSPORT 2 will also bring you full coverage of the Ryder Cup from 28-30 September live from Paris