VIRGINIA WATER England (Reuters) - Rookie trio Jonas Blixt, Victor Dubuisson and Joost Luiten will be welcome additions if they manage to qualify for Europe’s Ryder Cup team later this year, according to four-times skipper Tony Jacklin.
The 69-year-old Englishman, however, is less complimentary about Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher who is another player on the fringes of selection for the side that will defend the trophy against the United States at Gleneagles in September.
Florida-based Swede Blixt followed up his fourth place at the 2013 U.S. PGA Championship by finishing joint second behind Bubba Watson in last month’s U.S. Masters at Augusta on his first appearance at the opening major of the season.
“There is no doubt Europe have some quality players,” Jacklin told Reuters in an interview during the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
”This guy Blixt impresses me, I must say. He is a determined individual, he’s mentally tough and I loved the way he contained himself at Augusta.
“I always look out for the determination and mental toughness of today’s players and Blixt to me looked totally engaged in the job at hand last month,” added Europe’s most successful Ryder Cup captain.
“There was no suggestion of him backing off, he looked as tough as” ... and Jacklin’s voice suddenly trailed off as he banged his palm on a wooden table for emphasis.
The winner of the 1969 British Open and 1970 U.S. Open also said he liked what he saw in Frenchman Dubuisson, who claimed his first European win when he eclipsed the likes of Tiger Woods and Justin Rose at last year’s Turkish Open, and Dutchman Luiten.
”I saw Dubuisson against Jason Day in the WGC Match Play final in Arizona in February and Day looked dazed at times even though he won,“ said Jacklin. ”Dubuisson has gone a bit quiet since then but he may just be getting accustomed to his new status.
”It takes time but clearly the kid’s got talent and given a level-playing field, and if he proves his recent performances were no fluke, he’ll be a decent addition to Europe’s team.
“Dubuisson says he’s a bit of a loner but I think he has a pleasant disposition. He’s got a nice demeanor about him and he is probably a shoe-in for the team,” added Jacklin who is the ambassador for Glenmorangie, spirit of the British Open (www.glenmorangie.com/golf).
“We are probably going to have Luiten as well. He’s pretty consistent week in, week out. These guys are giving it their best and they deserve a shot at it.”
Jacklin, though, is less sure about Gallacher even though the Scot has something of a Ryder Cup pedigree, being the nephew of multiple former player and skipper Bernard.
Gallacher, another possible rookie at Gleneagles, recorded the third European Tour victory of his career by landing the Dubai Classic crown in February but the man who led Europe to two Ryder Cup wins, one tie and one defeat from 1983-89 is not convinced with his credentials.
“I‘m not being unkind but Stephen looks a bit iffy sometimes, as if he’s not sure,” said the Florida-based Englishman.
”He’s a bit tender-minded maybe. You’ve got to have that mental toughness. You’ve got to be able to walk through walls and be as hard as nails.
“It was quoted once that the softest thing about me out on the course was my teeth. You can be the nicest guy in the world when you’re off the course but when you’re out there playing tournament golf you’ve got to have that mental toughness.”
Editing by Patrick Johnston