The Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA Centenary course at Gleneagles in Scotland, site of the 2014 Ryder Cup, gave the golf world a glimpse at the Golden Bear’s most recent renovations when it played host to the 14th Johnnie Walker Championship this past weekend. To punctuate the week and whet appetites for 2014, Gleneagles was the backdrop Monday for the announcement of the final European Ryder Cup team, which will take on the United States September 28-30 at Medinah outside Chicago.
A raucous gathering of Scots around the 18th green Sunday celebrated a four-shot victory in the Johnnie Walker by countryman Paul Lawrie. It was the former British Open champion’s second win of the season, and cemented his spot about the 10 automatic bids to the European Ryder Cup team. Lawrie, who last made a Ryder Cup team in 1999—a year after winning the Open Championship—joins Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, and Lee Westwood with automatic bids to the European team.
Lawrie produced a consummate display of ball-striking and mental discipline to seal his third professional win on home soil.
“Probably one of the best ball-striking weeks in my career,” Lawrie said. “This course is obviously very good and the course played quite long and I’ve hit the ball a bit longer this week.”
Renovations to the PGA Centenary course were completed in April in close consultation with Nicklaus, and the changes were met with rave reviews by players in the Johnnie Walker field.
In the race for the final spots on the European Ryder Cup team, a visibly tired Nicolas Colsaerts needed a top-two finish in the Johnnie Walker to edge Germany’s Martin Kaymer for the final Ryder Cup spot. But Colsaerts finished 19th and was left having to rely on a wild-card invitation to the team by captain José María Olazábal. Less than a day after the conclusion of the Johnnie Walker, Olazábal named Colsaerts, along with Englishman Ian Poulter, as his wild-card picks to the team.
The inclusion of Colsaerts and Poulter means the European team will have just one rookie for only the third time since 1979. That rookie is Colsaerts, who will make history as the first Belgian to compete in the Ryder Cup. The 29 year old won the Volvo World Match Play Championship in May, defeating Graeme McDowell in the final.
Poulter will be playing in his fourth Ryder Cup after being part of the winning teams in 2004 and 2010, and on the losing side in 2008. He has an 8-3 Ryder Cup record. Winner of both the 2010 WGC—Accenture Match Play and the 2011 Volvo World Match Play, Poulter has had nine top-10 finishes in the Ryder Cup qualifying period, including winning the 2011 JBWere Masters.
United States captain Davis Love III will announce his four wild-card picks on Sept. 4 in New York.