Colin Montgomerie has what he hopes is the hardest part of his Ryder Cup captaincy out of the way -- deciding to leave out Englishmen Paul Casey and Justin Rose while picking Pádraig Harrington.
Casey, the former world number three, and Rose, the player who won twice in America earlier this summer, learned last night they were not going to be at Celtic Manor on October 1-3.
Wild cards have instead been handed to Harrington, Luke Donald and, on the back of his stunning victory in the last counting event, Edoardo Molinari.
Three birdies in the last three holes to win the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles by one convinced Montgomerie he had to go with Molinari -- not least because his brother Francesco is also on the side.
They are the first brothers in the same team since Bernard and Geoff Hunt in 1963, and it comes a season after Edoardo was on the second tier Challenge Tour. "I've been a player on the European Tour for 24 years and I don't think I've seen a finish of that quality under such pressure by anyone ever," said Montgomerie. "I think what he did was incredible and that's the type of player we need."
The two Molinaris won the World Cup last November and, since they were paired together not only when Edoardo won yesterday, but also when he triumphed at the Scottish Open last month, it is almost a given that they will be partners in Wales.
"Colin told me he was proud of what I had done," said 29-year-old Edoardo, the older by two years. "It was quite an emotional moment for me because this means I will be playing with my brother and that is something that is almost unreal.
"I could tell from the way he said it that if I had finished second then it wouldn't have been good enough. For two brothers to be playing in the Ryder Cup is an amazing achievement."
With both the Italians in, Montgomerie was left with no choice but to omit two of the so-called 'FedEx Four', who stayed in America rather than returning to contest the final places in Europe.
He spoke to Rose just before the final round of the first play-off event in New Jersey, but Casey was already on the course and Montgomerie had to wait to telephone him.
Montogomerie said: "It's a brave decision, it's a very strong decision -- and it's one I hope will regain the Ryder Cup. There is nothing personal here. This is for the sake of the team. I've gone for the three that I think give us the best chance to win, but I feel sorry for Paul and Justin. I've left the world number nine out here for the first time, and Justin is a world star too."
Montgomerie added: "I wish the team could contain 20 names."
"Pádraig is someone that we feel nobody in matchplay golf wants to play -- a great competitor. I'm not concerned about his form at all (Harrington's last Tour win was more than two years ago). I think when Pádraig's back is to the wall he comes out and produces fantastic performances. In Luke (Donald) we have someone that can compete in foursomes and in fourball golf."
Casey was the highest-ranked of all five main candidates, though, and out-played them in finishing third in last month's Open and 12th at the recent USPGA.
Rose won three points out of four on his debut two years ago, partnering Poulter to two wins and beating Phil Mickelson in the singles. He has played less than anybody in Europe this season, though, and, like Harrington, missed the halfway cut in the last two majors.
Half the side are rookies -- McIlroy, Kaymer, Fisher, Hanson and the Molinari brothers. Out from the last team are Sergio Garcia (who will serve as a fourth assistant captain), Henrik Stenson, Robert Karlsson, Oliver Wilson, Soren Hansen, Casey and Rose.
Only eight of the American side are known at the moment. Captain Corey Pavin adds four wild cards a week tomorrow -- and Tiger Woods is among those waiting for a call.
LEE WESTWOOD (Eng) Age: 37 Seventh Ryder Cup (P29, W14, L10, H5)
RORY McILROY (Irl) Age: 21 First Ryder Cup
MARTIN KAYMER (Ger) Age: 25 First Ryder Cup
GRAEME McDOWELL (Irl) Age: 31 Second Ryder Cup (P4, W2, H1, L1)
IAN POULTER (Eng) Age: 34 Third Ryder Cup (P7, W5, L2, H0)
ROSS FISHER (Eng) Age: 29 First Ryder Cup
FRANCESCO MOLINARI (Ita) Age: 27 First Ryder Cup
PETER HANSON (Swe) Age: 32 First Ryder Cup
MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ (Esp) Age: 46 Fourth Ryder Cup (P7, W1, L5, H1)
LUKE DONALD (Eng) Age: 32 Third Ryder Cup (P7, W5, L1, H1)
EDOARDO MOLINARI (Ita) Age: 29 First Ryder Cup
PADRAIG HARRINGTON (Irl) Age: 39 tomorrow Sixth Ryder Cup (P21, W7, L11, H3).