Why Bernd Wiesberger is Bob MacIntyre's Ryder Cup role model

Here’s a sobering thought for those feeling disappointed that neither Bob MacIntye or Calum Hill will be involved in the 43rd edition of the Ryder Cup: Bernd Wiesberger’s debut in the event has been 10 years in the making.

Bernd Wiesberger and caddie Jamie Lane walk down the 18th hole during the final round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

At times during the BMW PGA Championship as the Austrian battled to move into one of the automatic spots in the final qualifying event at Wentworth, you sensed that some people felt he’d almost be crashing a party by doing so yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Wiesberger is an eight-time European Tour winner, which, for example, puts him ahead of three of his team-mates at Whistling Straits, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

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Two of his triumphs have been in Rolex Series events, landing the Scottish Open and Italian Open in 2019, both of which came as he made an incredible return after missing most of the previous season with a wrist injury.

Over the past decade, he’s finished in the top 10 in the Race to Dubai three times, including third in 2019, when he won three times in total and had seven top-10s.

With all due respect to anyone else, there’s probably no-one playing on the European Tour who deserves to be playing in a Ryder Cup more than Wiesberger and fair play to the 35-year-old for handling the most pressure he’s ever faced in his life to tie down that automatic spot on Sunday.

“He delivered,” said European captain Padraig Harrington. “He turned out. He played his way into the team under pressure. Exactly what a captain wants to see.”

As has become the norm, the European team at Whistling Straits will comprise predominantly of players who compete on the PGA Tour and, due to the strength of that circuit, it’s something that will be the case again in Rome in 2023.

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It was great to hear Harrington, though, talk about the importance of players who tee up more regularly on the European Tour, as Wiesberger does, feeling they have a genuine chance of playing in the biennial event.

“I'm very keen that the Ryder Cup in Europe represents the European Tour as much as Europe itself,” said the Irishman. ”It's very important that the players in Europe have that opportunity to play their way into the team.“Bernd is a European-based player, that means that anybody playing in Europe has a chance to make the team. We don't want to do the ranking off the PGA Tour rankings. We want to do it off our European system.”

It’s no secret that one of MacIntyre’s closest friends on the circuit is Wiesberger, the pair having struck it off after going head-to-head in the final round when the Austrian landed his other win in Denmark in 2019.

It was a lovely moment, in fact, when Wiesberger was waiting to congratulate the Scot after he’d been crowned as the European Tour Rookie of the Year in Dubai that season and MacIntyre will now have been quick to show that he is also a class act.

Spending time with Wiesberger going forward will add fuel to MacIntyre’s desire to play in the event one day and the same goes for Hill, the two Scots having come up short on this occasion but having no need whatsoever to feel too disappointed about that.

Wiesberger was in their shoes a decade ago, wanting everything to happen straight away and getting frustrated at times. Indeed, I remember seeing him vent his fury once in Dubai a few years ago and a poor tree was on the wrong end of that.

He’s still a bit fiery, but there’s nothing wrong with that if it’s channeled correctly and Wiesberger can be the man MacIntyre, in particular, can use effectively over the next year or so to get the best out of himself on a regular basis.

As Graeme McDowell said after playing alongside him at Wentworth, MacIntyre’s time will come in the Ryder Cup, but he needs to be patient, as Wiesberger would be the first to tell him.

That the Austrian has finally achieved that goal really is brilliant and, while it might be a new environment for him in Wisconsin next week, he won’t be lacking friendly faces in the team room.

“Bernd is one of my best friends on tour,” said Sergio Garcia, who will be making his 10th appearance in the event after being handed a captain’s pick by Harrington along with Ian Poulter and Shane Lowry. “I know a lot about him and we text each other.

“As soon as he made it, I texted him congratulating him for making the team because I know how much it meant to him, and I'm really excited for him because he's been very close for many years. For him to finally do it, I know it means so much to him. I'm thrilled for him.”

Wiesberger will be one of three rookies in the European team, joining Lowry and Norwegian Viktor Hovland. Having won both a major and WGC, Lowry is only a rookie in name while Hovland already has two PGA Tour wins and one European Tour victory under his belt at just 23 and is the world No 13.

“It's very important to have your rookies, the enthusiasm, the passion that they bring,” said Harrington, who has half the number in Steve Strcker’s US side. ”You wouldn't want to be there without them.”

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