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Friday 15 December 2017

Luke 'pipped' to cup - McGinley

Europe captain explains Donald's Ryder omission

European captain Paul McGinley revealed Lee Westwood had "slightly pipped" Luke Donald (below) to a Ryder Cup wild card after completing his team for Gleneagles on Tuesday.

McGinley selected Stephen Gallacher, Ian Poulter and Westwood for the biennial contest against the United States from September 26-28, with Donald missing out despite his superb record in team golf.

The former world number one achieved a 7-1 record in two Walker Cup wins and has claimed 10 and a half points from 15 matches in four previous Ryder Cup appearances, all of which ended in a European victory.

The 36-year-old also partnered Paul Casey to World Cup glory in 2004 but has paid the price for an indifferent season, recording just one top 10 on the European Tour in 2014.

"It came down to form between the two players and Lee just slightly pipped him," McGinley said. "It was a very, very difficult conversation.

"My relationship with Luke is very close. His first match in the Ryder Cup I was his partner (a half against Chris Riley and Stewart Cink in 2004).

"It will be strange to be in a Ryder Cup environment without Luke. His record is absolutely outstanding.

"He's a player that will no doubt go on to make many more appearances in the Ryder Cup and it was a very, very difficult call that I had to make, but one that I had to do in the interests of the European team.

"He was very, very disappointed and rightly so. He is a former world number one whose record stands up with anyone in the game.

"He said 'I publicly backed you to be the captain and even though you have not picked me I believe you will be a great captain. His last two words were 'Go Europe.'"

Westwood admitted he breathed a sigh of relief after getting the call on Monday night from McGinley, who telephoned everyone on the world points list down to the Englishman in 16th place.

Delighted

That meant telling Miguel Angel Jimenez, Francesco Molinari and Joost Luiten they had not been selected.

"I am obviously delighted, the Ryder Cup has always been a massive thing in my career," said Westwood, who has made eight consecutive appearances but suffered a slump in form mid-season after winning the Malaysian Open in April.

"I have played a lot better the last month. Paul asked me to show some form and I think I did so, especially in the final round at Bridgestone (a 63) and then leading after the first round of the US PGA as well.

"I think Paul has picked me for my experience. I have played under eight different captains and pretty much seen all it can throw at you."

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