Europe’s Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn welcomed the first eight members of the European Team to face the USA in Paris after his countryman, Thorbjørn Olesen, took the last available automatic spot at his home event, the Made in Denmark.
Olesen was in direct competition with Matt Fitzpatrick and Eddie Pepperell for the last available automatic qualifying spot, but the English duo both had to win the event to stand a chance of leapfrogging Olesen on the World Points List.
Olesen is the fourth and final player to make the team via the World List, joining Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Alex Noren; while Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood qualified from the European Points List.
Bjørn said: “First of all I want to congratulate the eight players who have automatically qualified for The 2018 Ryder Cup Team. They have all played some incredible golf to make it, and every single one of them is a world class golfer who will represent Europe with pride and commitment. I am honoured and extremely proud to be their Captain.”
Europe’s Captain will now turn his attention to completing his 12-man team on Wednesday when he announces his four Wild Card picks. That will be a tough task with so many talented players available, but it is a problem Bjørn would rather have than not.
“It’s a great position to be in,” he agreed. “A lot of guys are playing well. We’re in a situation where we’re going to make some guys happy and we’re going to let some guys down, but that’s the way it is and the way it has always been. But there is no doubt that myself and the Vice Captains will go with the decision we feel is right.”
Bjørn’s eight qualifiers are naturally delighted to have made the team and are relishing the opportunity to reclaim the Ryder Cup in Paris in four weeks’ time.
Molinari said: “It’s going to be a great honour to represent Europe in the Ryder Cup again. One of the many benefits of winning The Open was that I knew then that I was going to be in the team so it has been a very enjoyable qualification for me this year. I think all of the guys will say the same – I am excited to be part of Team Europe again and will do everything I can to help Thomas and the Team try to win back the Ryder Cup.”
Rose said: “It’s always a long wait for the Ryder Cup and then all of a sudden you realise it’s upon us and a lot of our focus now will turn to doing everything we can for our Captain and Team to bring that trophy on European soil. It’s going to be a great Ryder Cup with two very good teams going head-to-head and it feels like it’s going to be a very close battle this year in Paris.”
Tyrrell Hatton: “I’m glad that it’s finally here. I obviously managed to get a lot of my qualification points early on the process so it has been a long wait for me. So to be able to finally get there and get going will be a bit of a relief in some ways. My game is in good shape too so hopefully I can be there to help the Thomas and the Team whenever they need me.”
Tommy Fleetwood: “I’m so happy, honoured and extremely proud to have qualified for the team. I absolutely believe it will be one of the best Ryder Cups ever with the quality of both teams being as high as they are. The atmosphere will be amazing at Le Golf National. Honestly can’t wait for this experience!”
Rahm said: “I have to say that I am really excited to make my Ryder Cup debut for Team Europe. I have spoken to a lot of the guys about it and everyone tells me how amazing of an experience it will be. Both Teams look to be very strong and hopefully we can come out on top.”
McIlroy said: “You can definitely feel the Ryder Cup build-up, especially now that we have our eight qualifiers confirmed. I think we have the makings of a very strong Team and I know that Thomas and his Vice-Captains will think long and hard about the best four players to add to our group on Wednesday. I think Thomas is going to be a great captain. I chatted with him on the phone twice last week, just talking about a few things. He’s keeping everyone in the loop.”
Alex Noren: “I think we have a great team already and I am sure Thomas and the Vice-Captains will add even more strength to the Team next week. I’m looking forward to playing my first Ryder Cup – it is something I have thought about for a long time. I’m very happy that we are playing at Le Golf National too – having won around there this year I obviously can play well around there so hopefully I can help the Team win as many points as possible.”
Olesen said: “Relief is my first emotion, that’s for sure. It’s been a tough week, a long week. A lot of things on my mind. It’s been difficult but it’s been great to learn that different kind of pressure. I think I handled it pretty well. There were a couple of things that could have been better, but it was a tough week and I feel pretty happy now. To make the team automatically probably makes it that little bit more special, but it’s nice to place yourself in the team, and being inside that top eight will probably make me feel a little bit more comfortable when I get to The Ryder Cup. I’m happy and I’m very proud of myself, the way I’ve done things this summer and I’ve handled myself.”