DESPITE the third best individual record in the history of the Ryder Cup, Luke Donald has been left out of this year’s European team.

Captain Paul McGinley instead handed wild cards to Stephen Gallacher, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood.

For Donald, arguably one of the best golfers to be overlooked, the decision will come as a bitter blow.

McGinley admitted that Donald hadn't expected to be left out and the former world number one golfer has a stunning record in team golf having won both Walker Cups he has played in as well as all four of his Ryder Cups.

He has also never lost a foursomes match in the Ryder Cup and his winning ratio of 70 per cent places him behind only Arnold Palmer and Poulter in the event’s long history.

However, like Westwood and Poulter, he has struggled for form this season.

McGinley said: “It was a very difficult conversation with him [Donald] for a number of reasons.

“My relationship with Luke is very close. He has played in every Ryder Cup I've been involved in. I've partnered Luke twice in 2004 and 2006 and vice-captained him in 2010 and 12.

“I forged a very strong relationship with him. His Ryder Cup record is outstanding and he will no doubt go on to make many more appearances in the Ryder Cup.

“It was a difficult call but one I had to do in the interests of the European team.

“He was very disappointed. He is a former number one in the world. The first ever shot he hit in the Ryder Cup I was his partner.

"He told me he publicly backed me to be the captain. Even though I hadn't picked him he told me he backed me and his last words were ‘Go Europe’.

“I think that says a lot about Luke."

Donald had probably been pencilled in until Gallacher’s superb finish at the Italian Open on Sunday.

The Scot needed a top two finish to secure a place in the team but although he missed out by a shot, finishing third, he won McGinley over with a final round 65.

McGinley said: “Of course it's a concern for me to pick a rookie. But Stephen Gallacher has proved himself and earned his spot in this team.

“As a rookie you have to earn a little bit more to earn a pick. And I think Stevie did more than a little bit more.

“His performance last week had a huge effect on me. He really had to go some and he did.”