PARAMUS, N.J. – Paul Casey had not checked his cell phone after his final round at The Barclays to see if he had made the Ryder Cup team for Europe.
He didn’t have to.
Casey was playing Sunday with Padraig Harrington, and on the seventh hole, he noticed Caroline Harrington giving the thumbs-up to her husband’s caddie.
“Caroline’s a great friend,” Casey said. “She would have said something to me if I had been picked. So at that point, I knew that I hadn’t. I was trying to keep my composure and put in a solid performance today.”
It was never going to be easy for European captain Colin Montgomerie, who had three picks for five worthy candidates. It sure wasn’t easy for Casey and Justin Rose, two Ryder Cup veterans who will have to watch this competition from home.
Edoardo Molinari birdied the last three holes to win the Johnnie Walker Championship, making him a realistic choice. That left two picks among Harrington, Casey, Luke Donald and Justin Rose, all of whom were in New Jersey when he announced his selections.
Montgomerie went with Harrington and Donald, who were relieved.
Casey did well to keep his composure so soon after he had finished his round of 69. When asked if it was awkward to play the last 12 holes with Harrington, who had made the team, Casey replied with a smile, “It was difficult. Can I go now?”
Even some of the American players were stunned that Casey was not selected.
He is No. 9 in the world ranking, despite coming off a rib injury that cost him the second half of the 2009 season. He tied for third at the British Open, has played in the last three Ryder Cups, won the World Match Play Championship in England and twice has been a finalist in the Match Play Championship in Arizona.
Equally disappointed was Rose, who won the Memorial and the AT&T National at Aronimink earlier this summer. Rose played in his first Ryder Cup two years ago and went 3-1-0.
“I thought I had as good as shot as anyone,” Rose said. “With Paul Casey not picked as well, I think it’s a very interesting selection. I don’t think many people would have gone with those three.”
Donald is No. 10 in the world ranking and has a 5-1-1 record in the two Ryder Cups he has played. Harrington is a three-time major championship winner, although he has not won a sanctioned event since his PGA Championship in 2008 at Oakland Hills. In the last two cups, the Irishman is 0-7-2.
“It was going to be a difficult situation,” Harrington said. “As I’ve said all along, if you don’t qualify for the team, you don’t have an automatic right to be on the team. It comes down to Monty’s decision.”
Harrington said Montgomerie could not have gone wrong no matter whom he selected. It might have helped Harrington to have the experience of playing on five teams, because six Europeans will be Ryder Cup rookies.
“I won’t normally play the age card, but this time, it obviously suits me,” he said.
Montgomerie had said he was able to contact everyone except Casey, although Harrington and Donald said they did not find out until after they were on the course at Ridgewood Country Club.
Donald opened with six straight birdies and went out in 28, which put him two shots out of the lead. He learned he was on the team at the 10th hole, and it was no coincidence that he bogeyed three of the next four holes. Donald shot 28-40 for a strange round of 68.
“It did throw me off a little bit,” Donald said. “I was trying to get it out of my head and just play golf. But I didn’t do a very good job on the back nine.”
Donald felt particularly bad for Casey because his brother is Casey’s caddie.
“It was probably one of the craziest selections for a Ryder Cup ever,” Donald said. “Guys in top 10 didn’t know if they were going to be playing. It was very anxious moments, and obviously, there was some relief. Very excited to be back on the team and to be part of the Ryder Cup again.”