The first major of the year came to a conclusion yesterday as Bubba Watson put on his second green jacket in three years. But walking around the greens, Paul McGinley had other things on his mind as he was on the look out for the European talents who will be wanting to make the short list for his Ryder Cup side this September.
Jonas Blixt was one of the outstanding performers from this weekend but when asked about his chances for a place in this year’s competition, the Swede stuttered and was unable to mention the captain’s name. Blixt finished second overall alongside young American, Jordan Speith, on five under par after a round of 71 on the final day. For the second consecutive major, he has finished in the top five after doing so in the US PGA Championship and his efforts haven’t gone unnoticed from the captain. He reiterated that he is the man for the big occasion but it will depend on whether he can hold this consistency going into the summer.
50 year old, Miguel Angel Jimenez had a strong finish on the final day as he too recorded a round of 71, pushing him up to four under par. The Mechanic was paired up with Rickie Fowler on the final day as the contest between the young and the experienced captivated the crowds in Augusta. On Saturday, the Spaniard produced one of his best rounds in this tournament, recording a round of 66 after taking advantage of the cool conditions but unfortunately his chances had been hindered by his poor score the day before. He has already featured in the Ryder Cup and featured as a captain last time out but he wants to prove that he still has the composure to play in the team again.
Lee Westwood finished seventh on the leaderboard as he still craves his first major. The Englishman still felt he was in contention going into the final day but he was unable to catch the leaders who failed to falter. Undoubtedly, he will be a favourite to feature in this year’s line up along with McIlroy, Rose and Poulter. It was an encouraging performance from all the British hopefuls but the general consensus was the inability to conquer the par fives. Watson made the longer holes look easy with his powerful drive enabling him to reach the green in two but the Brits were forced to rely on their short game more often after staggering up the large fairways.
There is plenty of time left for McGinley to make his picks but the Americans will be pleased with what they have seen this weekend in particularly from their younger players such as Jordan Speith and Rickie Fowler. But what must be remembered is that this year’s match up will come from Gleneagles and until we see how they perform on a links course, will we be able to predict the outcome.