Ludvig Aberg makes team – plus Luke Donald’s picks assessed

Europe captain Luke Donald has selected Tommy Fleetwood, Sepp Straka, Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, Nicolai Hojgaard and Ludvig Aberg as his wild cards for the 44th Ryder Cup in Rome.

Former world number one amateur Aberg only turned professional in June, but won the final qualifying event in Switzerland on Sunday with a final round of 64 at Crans-sur-Sierre.

The 23-year-old Swede has made the quickest transition from the amateur ranks to the Ryder Cup in the contest’s history, eclipsing the previous record set by Sergio Garcia, who made his debut in September 1999 after turning professional following April’s Masters.

The six wild cards join automatic qualifiers Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Matt Fitzpatrick, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton and Robert MacIntyre in Donald’s team.

The logic behind Donald’s decision to pick Lowry over Meronk

By James Corrigan, Golf Correspondent

Luke Donald’s job selecting his Ryder Cup wildcards was supposed to be easier and certainly less controversial than that of US counterpart Zach Johnson because of the LIV rebel’s ineligibility for the match in Rome in three weeks time. 

However, the biennial dust-up has a particular penchant for stirring the emotions and after overlooking Adrian Meronk, the rangy Pole who won the Italian Open at the Marco Simone venue less than four months ago, Donald has inevitably come under flak.

It was not the Englishman’s selection of Ludvig Aberg – the 23-year-old who won on just his ninth professional start in Switzerland on Sunday – or that of another prodigious rookie in 22-year-old Nicolai Hojgaard that came under scrutiny, but Shane Lowry. 

The 2019 Open winner had long been inked in for one of the six picks and he was duly named on Monday afternoon, alongside Aberg, Hojgaard, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and Sepp Straka. 

But by then, with the news of the Meronk snub already emerging before the OTT, made-for-TV announcement on Sky, attention had turned on the affable Irishman. Richard Bland, a member of the LIV Golf League, led the early criticisms. “Wins the Italian Open, is third on the DP World Tour rankings… [Meronk} deserves a pick over an out-of-form Lowry in my opinion,” Bland posted on social media.

Another leading player – who wished to remain anonymous – said largely the same to Telegraph Sport and claimed that Lowry had been told prior to last week’s final qualifying event in the Alps that his place was assured. “No form,” he said, pointing to the fact that Lowry has recorded just one top 10 in 18 PGA Tour events this year – in February – and missed his last two cuts in Europe. 

Of course, so much more than the results sheet goes into the formation of a Ryder Cup team and while this rejection appears harsh on Meronk – a 30-year-old who, after winning three times in the last 14 months, looked so likely to be the first from his country to play in the Ryder Cup – Lowry has ticked several other boxes, not least that he was top 20 in three of this year’s majors.

There is not just the heavyweight CV – a World Golf Championship title and a victory in last year’s BMW PGA Championship in Wentworth to go with the Claret Jug – but Lowry’s experience of the outing at Whistling Straits two years ago. Granted, he only won one point out of three games, but what a point it was in the company of Tyrrell Hatton and what a celebration to boot as he belly-checked his caddie after the winning putt. 

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