Battle lines drawn with Ryder Cup wildcards announced
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The final pieces of the Ryder Cup jigsaw were slotted into place on Tuesday as holders Europe, who will be hosts and heavy favorites later this month, and the United States rounded out their 12-man teams with three wildcard picks.
European captain Paul McGinley, spoilt for choice, ultimately went for seasoned Cup veterans in Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood along with 39-year-old rookie Stephen Gallacher.
Later in the day, McGinley's counterpart Tom Watson opted for a blend of experience and form by announcing Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson as his three picks.
While both captains expressed delight and strong faith in their teams, the Americans will go into the Sept. 26-28 matches at Gleneagles in Scotland with a record of seven losses in the last nine editions.
"The Europeans, on paper, have been touted as being the favorites and we are the underdogs but I have a fundamental belief in my team," Watson told a news conference in New York after announcing his selections.
"More importantly, our players have a fundamental belief in themselves that they can go and win the Ryder Cup."
Watson felt that the stinging defeat suffered by the Americans in the most recent edition, at Medinah outside Chicago in 2012, would serve as his team's greatest motivation.
"I can tell you that all the players I have talked to, every one of them without a doubt, had one thing to say about the Ryder Cup," said the 64-year-old, who was captain when the U.S. last won on foreign soil, at The Belfry in 1993. Continued...