Little in the way of suspense surrounded the selection of both Garcia and Poulter. Harrington long ago intimated both were front and centre in his mind, which was no surprise. When it comes to the qualities each will bring to the 12-strong mix that will defend the trophy won so convincingly at Le Golf National in France three years ago, both are easy cases to make.
Garcia will arrive in Wisconsin as already the highest-ever points scorer for Europe, having amassed 25-and-a-half from his nine previous appearances between 1999 and 2018.
And Poulter? Surely every golf fan is familiar with the pride and passion the 45-year-old Englishman has brought to each of his six Ryder Cups. His tangible contribution is also remarkable, quite apart from the never-to-be-forgotten, game-changing, five-birdies-in-succession run he made in a Saturday evening fourball at Medinah in 2012. Never a loser in singles, Poulter has an overall record of 14-6-2, one that means he “plays with a target on my back”.
“This year will be no different,” he said. “It’s not a case of me being the ‘bad boy’. This is about me being one of 12 guys who can do the job we need to do. We have the experience in the team. We need to go out and enjoy what we have to do.”
Still, the same levels of certainty and justification were not in place when it came to the third pick. While Lowry’s selection is easily justified – he is, after all, a former Open champion – Harrington was quick to hail his fellow Irishman’s ability to cope with “brinkmanship” over the course of the qualifying period. Always on the edge, either just in or just out, Lowry played the last few months with much self-induced pressure hanging over his every competitive appearance.
In the end though, it was relief Lowry was feeling, not disappointment, especially after suffering the agony of waiting for the captain’s decision.
“I don’t normally talk myself up, but I think I’ve done enough,” Lowry said before his selection. “I deserve to be on the team, but it’s up to them. I’ve put forward as strong a case as you can put forward.”
As things turned out, it was Justin Rose who was the “13th man”. The former US Open champion made a last-ditch attempt to impress the skipper with a closing 65 in the BMW PGA Championship. But a T-6 finish wasn’t quite enough to overtake the three men selected.