GLENEAGLES, Scotland – Edoardo Molinari of Italy came up a big winner twice on Sunday – first winning the Johnnie Walker Championship, then becoming one of three captain’s picks for Europe’s Ryder Cup team.
Colin Montgomerie also chose three-time major winner Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald, who is No. 10 in the world ranking.
In one of the toughest choices for any European captain, Montgomerie had three picks for five worthy candidates. He had to leave off Paul Casey, who is No. 9 in the world and played on the last three teams, and Justin Rose, who won twice on the PGA Tour this summer at the Memorial and the AT&T National.
Montgomerie suggested that he had made up his mind about Molinari before he birdied the last three holes to win at Gleneagles.
“It made our job easier that he did win,” Montgomerie said. “What he achieved in three rounds was enough to tell us that this player was capable of handling the most incredible pressure so well.”
Far tougher was having to leave off Rose and Casey, who has won the World Match Play Championship in England and twice was runner-up in the Match Play Championship in Arizona. Making it worse, Casey and Harrington were playing together in the final round at The Barclays. They were on the sixth hole when Harrington’s wife gave him thumbs-up to signal he was on the team.
“Caroline is a great friend,” Casey said. “She would have said something to me if I had been picked. So at that point, I kind of knew that I hadn’t.”
It led to an awkward situation the rest of the round.
“It was very, very hard to stick to your job,” Harrington said. “It was never going to be easy on Monty.”
Montgomerie said Molinari, who birdied the last three holes to win on Sunday, is “the type of player we need to regain this Ryder Cup.”
“In my 24 years on the European Tour I have not seen a finish of that quality by anyone in such a pressure situation,” Montgomerie said.
“Having to come here and having to win what he did today was incredible. And to birdie the last three holes in the way that he did – the job in selecting the wild cards (was) very, very easy for us.”
Molinari joins his younger brother Francesco on Europe’s team. They will be the first brothers to play in the Ryder Cup together since Bernard and Geoffrey Hunt of England in 1967.
“It’s a delight that we have two thrilling players coming from an emerging country like Italy and it’s no secret as to who will be partnering each other at Celtic Manor,” Montgomerie said.
The Molinari brothers were a winning pair at golf’s World Cup in China last year and both will make their debuts against the United States at Celtic Manor in Wales from Oct. 1-3.
“It was quite an emotional moment for me because this means I will be playing with my brother in the Ryder Cup and that (is) something that is almost unreal,” Eduardo Molinari said.
“We communicate differently from best friends out on the golf course – a lot of the time we don’t even have to say anything to each other, we know exactly what the other is thinking or wants to do and that’s a great help.”
Harrington and Donald were on the course in the final round of The Barclays in New Jersey. Donald birdied his opening six holes, playing as though he were making closing arguments, and he went out in 28 to get within two shots of the lead. He learned the news on the 10th green, then bogeyed the next two holes.
“It did throw me off a little,” Donald said, relieved to make the team after what he called a “crazy” selection process. He also felt bad for Casey and Rose, particularly because Donald’s brother is the caddie for Casey.
Montgomerie explained the choice of Harrington and Donald ahead of Casey and Rose.
“Padraig has won three majors in the past two years, he has great stature in the game and when his back is up against the wall he comes out and gives tremendous performances,” Montgomerie said. “He is a great competitor.”
Montgomerie said Rose would get a place on the team in the event that Lee Westwood failed to recover in time from his calf injury.
Montgomerie also announced that Europe will have a fourth vice captain as Sergio Garcia agreed to join his staff.
The nine players who qualified on their own for the Ryder Cup team were Westwood, U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, PGA champion Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter, Ross Fisher, Francesco Molinari, Peter Hanson, Rory McIlroy and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Six of Europe’s players have never competed in the Ryder Cup – the Molinari brothers, McIlroy, Hanson, Kaymer and Ross Fisher.
Montgomerie said the selection meeting with his vice captains took five hours, adding “we had an embarrassment of riches on this occasion.”
U.S. captain Corey Pavin is to announce his four picks on Sept. 7 in New York.