Updated: Tuesday, 02 September 2014 22:44 | By Agence France-Presse

Ryder Cup callups for Westwood, Poulter and Gallacher

Europe's Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley on Tuesday made his three wildcard picks for Gleneagles, selecting Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Stephen Gallacher.


Ryder Cup callups for Westwood, Poulter and Gallacher

England's Lee Westwood watches his tee shot during a practice round ahead of the British Open at the Royal Liverpool Golf Course in Hoylake, north-west England, on July 16, 2014 - by Paul Ellis

But there was no place for former world number one Luke Donald, despite being ranked higher in the world than the three chosen ahead of him to complete the 12-strong team.

Already assured of a place in the European team for the September 26-28 showdown with the Americans in Scotland were Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Victor Dubuisson, Jamie Donaldson, Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell.

That means that McGinley has at his disposal four of the top five ranking players in the world in McIlrioy, Stenson, Garcia and Rose -- all of whom have past Ryder Cup experience -- along with three rookies in Dubuisson, Donaldson and Gallacher.

In all, there are seven players who retain their place from the team that two years ago in Chicago staged the greatest final day comeback in Ryder Cup history to defeat the Americans 14 1/2 to 13 1/2.

The five changes involve Gallacher, Donaldson, Dubuisson, Stenson and Thomas Bjorn replacing Donald, Peter Hanson, Paul Lawrie, Nicholas Colsaerts, and Francesco Molinari.

All the focus on Tuesday, however, was on which three picks skipper McGinley would make, with two former world number ones, Westwood and Donald, going up against Ryder Cup hero Poulter and 39-year-old would-be debutant Gallacher.

In the end it was Donald, a veteran of four previous European Ryder Cup wins, but who has been in relatively poor form of late, who missed out.

"I'm in a privileged position in that I had a variety of choices and it says a lot about the European Tour and the standards we have now in Europe, the quality of the picks I have and how far we've come over the years for me to have such an abundance of talent to choose from," McGinley said

The Irishman, who sunk the winning putt for Europe at the 2002 Ryder Cup, said that he had been convinced to give Gallacher his first Ryder Cup cap on the back of his third place finish in the Italian Open on Sunday.

The Scot had needed to finish second to dislodge McDowell from the ninth and final qualifying spot, but came up just one shot short after a tremendous closing round of 65.

- incredible performer -

"I think his performance last week in Italy, under the spotlight, was huge," McGinley said.

"He'll look back at that at the end of his career, whatever he goes on to achieve, as one of the highlights of his career, if not the highlight.

"I told him to go and have a drink to celebrate, and he said, 'is that ok, can I go and have a drink?' so you can see he's taking it seriously."

"I'm very proud for him being Scottish.

"Again I'm lucky in that I've played a Ryder Cup in my home country so I know what it's going to feel like for Stevie and how proud he's going to be."

Donald, he said, had been unlucky to miss out and had been very disappointed to learn he had not been chosen when McGinley had him on the phone.

"Luke has been an incredible performer over the years and his Ryder Cup record is outstanding," he said.

"It was a very difficult call to make but I had to do it in the interests of the European team."

Westwood will be playing in his ninth Ryder Cup as an ever-present since 1997 and he leads the way for European wins with six to his name, one more than Colin Montgomerie.

"Lee, despite the fact he's played so many times in the Ryder Cup, there's a real sense of pride on the phone that he made the team. He's very gracious, very humble about that fact he's going to be on this team," McGinley said.

Poulter was handed a wildcard invite for the third time, but such has been his success in the event, especially two years ago, that he was seen as a near certainty to get the nod.

US skipper Tom Watson will announce his three wildcard picks in New York later on Tuesday with the certainty that they will not include Tiger Woods who is unavailable through injury.

Europe have won five out of the last six Ryder Cups and will start strong favourites once again in Gleneagles with the biennial inter-continental showdown returning to Scotland for the first time in 31 years.

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