Who Could Make Their Ryder Cup Debut in 2020
The 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits is now officially under a year away. It seems scarcely hard to believe that we are already 12 months removed from Europe's magnificent triumph at Le Golf National, but the clock is ticking down for Padraig Harrington as he plots a successful defence across the Atlantic.
Suddenly it all seems real. Qualification began at the BMW PGA Championship and will run until that same event next September. Thomas Bjorn's team stunned the United States in France by effectively blending together youth and experience, but there will be an expected turnover of players for the new captain to contend with.
Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson will be 44, Paul Casey 43, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia 40. These stalwarts all remain more than capable of winning crucial points for Europe, but if there is to be a fresh injection of talent for the matches, we take a look at some of the most likely names who could make their debut in the biennial event in Wisconsin.
Harrington's compatriot and close friend has declared making his first appearance for Europe a primary objective. And how could you deny the Champion Golfer of the Year, who so brilliantly secured the Claret Jug at Royal Portrush. Renowned for his imperious touch around the greens, the Irishman has typically shown his best form in non-Ryder Cup years, including his success in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in 2015. When it comes to rookies, they don't come more experienced or able than a major winners.
The intense and fiercely competitive Englishman narrowly missed out on a captain's pick last time, despite winning three events on the European Tour in 2018, including a dramatic, willed performance at the Made in Denmark. This season, the 29-year-old has impressed in America, featuring on the leaderboards at both the PGA Championship and U.S. Open. His fiery nature divides opinion among the public, but those traits have made for many a fine match player.
Approaching his 34th birthday, the big Austrian had long been touted as a potential Ryder Cup star, but injury somewhat curtailed his progress. However, 2019 has been a vintage season, claiming titles in Denmark and Scotland. It would take a considerable effort to elevate himself into the conversation for a place, but a similar campaign in 2020 would make Wiesberger part of that discussion.
Following a breakthrough year in 2018, the popular Englishman hasn't quite replicated that form in recent months, but a resurgence shouldn't be discounted in the near future, however victories are needed, such as those he grasped in Qatar and at the British Masters last season.
Now a proven winner on the European Tour - with titles at the Portugal Masters and Alfred Dunhill Links to show - the Dane showcased his chops for match play earlier this year by reaching the semi-finals of the World Golf Championship, including a famous win against Tiger Woods. The 28-year-old could yet become an established force in the game.
Padraig Harrington will be thrilled at the prospect of Viktor Hovland, who has quickly made great strides in the professional ranks, securing his PGA Tour card and finishing T-11th at Wentworth. Winner of the U.S. Amateur in 2018, the Norwegian took medallist honours at both the Masters and U.S. Open. Taking up affiliate membership on the European Tour, meaning he is in the race for points, with considerable experience of golf in America, the 22-year-old almost seems a certainty to make his debut in 12 months.
Most golf fans wouldn't have heard of Bob MacIntyre a year ago, but the left-handed Scot has made a name for himself during a sparkling rookie year on the European Tour, posting three runner-up finishes and a tie for sixth at the Open Championship. Should the young man from Oban make it on the plane to the Midwest next year, he will have to turn those near-misses into victories, but it's surely only a matter of time before he crosses that winning line.
Do you think any of these players will be part of the European team next year, or can you think of other possible contenders? Let us know!
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