Rookie beats undefeated veteran to Ryder Cup wildcard spot

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Although an entire pool of European golfers not already qualified for this year’s Ryder Cup were available to him, captain Paul McGinley realistically only had five men to choose from before finalising his side for the Gleneagles competition.

Three of the five are decorated veterans in the fevered matchplay event, another has one unsuccessful appearance to his name, while the final option is a rookie who has enjoyed a season bursting with impressive results.

Speculation over which of Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Stephen Gallacher the Irishman would plump for was soon doused with fact, as Gallacher edged out Donald to join Poulter and Westwood on the roster.

Europe, as two-time defending champions, are the 2/5 favourites to claim a third successive victory in golf’s most exciting format and McGinley will rest easy in the knowledge that he has a 12-strong squad as good as any that has teed it up for the continent in recent years.

Poulter and Westwood, both revered Ryder Cup performers in their own right, were veritable shoo-ins to receive a pleasing call from their skipper, but the battle between Donald and Gallacher was hard-fought.

Donald has an uncompromising record in team events; the 36-year-old has never lost one as either an amateur or pro, but saw the formidable tally shown below pale slightly in the face of a poor season, where just three top-10 finishes have been landed in 17 tournaments:

Instead, McGinley went for the rookie Scot who missed out on the last automatic qualification spot by one place when finishing third in the Italian Open last week. There’s a risk in handing a rookie a wildcard spot though, so much so that only eight players have ever received the honour prior to Gallacher. As you can see from the tweet below, there seems a very good reason for that:

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.