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Belgian rookie Colsaerts wins Ryder Cup wildcard

European Ryder Cup team captain Jose Maria Olazabal poses with his wildcard pick Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium.

Story highlights

  • Colsaerts is currently ranked 35 in the world and won the Volvo World Match Play in May
  • Poulter makes the cut despite missing out on tournaments through illness
  • Eight members of the victorious 2010 European team will play at Medinah next month
  • Davis Love will choose his remaining four wildcards for the U.S. team next week

European team captain Jose Maria Olazabal went for a mix of experience and untried talent on Monday as he selected his two wildcard picks for next month's Ryder Cup golf tournament against the United States.

While Britain's Ian Poulter will appear in the prestigious match play event for the fourth time, having been a winner in 2010, rookie Nicolas Colsaerts will become the first Belgian to take part.

The 29-year-old, who won the Volvo World Match Play Championship in May, is only the third first-timer selected in a European team since 1979.

He has climbed up the rankings to 35th with nine top-10 finishes this year. He beat 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, who is also on the team, in the Wentworth final.

Colsaerts needed a top-two finish at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles on Sunday to secure an automatic spot in the 12-man team but tied for 19th to let out-of-form former world No. 1 Martin Kaymer retain his place for the match at Medinah in Illinois.

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"This has been something I've wanted since I was a little kid," he told reporters. "To be part of such a big team with a captain with such great history is something I'm very proud of."

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Colsaerts turned professional in 2000, but did not win his first European Tour event until the 2011 China Open -- where he was runner-up this year -- and he placed seventh at July's British Open.

His selection, heading off the likes of three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, means it is the first time a European team has been made up from inside the world's top 35.

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"His match play record is very good. He finished third last year at the World Match Play and he won this year," said Olazabal, a two-time major winner who has played in seven Ryder Cups.

"He's had a very solid season, and on top of that, he's made the extra effort trying to make the team. He really showed me that he wants to be a part of that team. Those are the reasons for me to pick him."

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Former top-10 player Poulter, who beat Colsaerts in last year's Volvo Match Play semifinals, has had to overcome illness and a slow start to the season.

He pulled out of the Honda Classic in March with pneumonia, but was ninth at the British Open and then claimed third place in this month's U.S. PGA Championship to move back up to 26th in the rankings.

"I think he gets the best out of himself playing the Ryder Cup," Olazabal said. "He had some issues early in the season but his attitude and his spirit in the Ryder Cup team has always been great. He's one of those players who likes to be in that situation."

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Colsaerts and Poulter join world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Johnnie Walker winner Paul Lawrie, McDowell, Francesco Molinari, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Peter Hanson and Kaymer in the team for the September 28-30 event.

Eight of that team were part of the victory at Celtic Manor in Wales two years ago, when Europe won by just one point after a dramatic fightback by the United States.

U.S. team captain Davis Love has four wildcard spots to fill. He will make his choice next Tuesday after this week's Deutsche Bank Championship, the second of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup series.

Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson have already secured their places in the team.