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Clarke Finalises Ryder Cup Team - Westwood, Kaymer, Pieters

By: Golfshake Editor | Tue 30 Aug 2016

Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements

DARREN CLARKE handed a Ryder Cup debut to Thomas Pieters after the big-hitting Belgian's victory in the Made in Denmark. He also finished runner-up in the Czech Masters and was fourth in the Olympic Games golf tournament, and Clarke has no worries about the player's ability to cope with the pressures at Hazeltine at the end of September.

Darren Clarke

"The past few days have been some of the toughest of my entire golfing life as I have watched people playing and checking all the statistics," Clarke said. "Bringing the trophy home will be a monumental task. My first wild card is Lee Westwood, my second is Martin Kaymer and my third is Thomas Pieters. Lee and Martin bring a huge amount of experience to the team and were fairly easy choices to make.

"I played with Thomas in Denmark last week and he knew why I was playing with him and went out and shot a 62 and made it look easy, and then finished the tournament in style as he went on to win it with three successive birdies on the closing holes. He has everything it takes to make it all the way to the very top of the game. I am very pleased to have him on my team. It has been difficult to make these decisions. It is not just about playing, it's about the team dynamic.

"I considered Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell, but both of them will admit they haven't been at their best. So it came down to Thomas and Russell Knox, and the phone call to Russell was the most difficult call I have ever made.

"It is going to be a tough task to win again but I have no worries at all about the strength of our team."

Pieters was delighted about his inclusion. "It has been a crazy couple of days," he said. "I was very proud to win in Denmark with all that pressure. I really wanted to make the team. I can't wait to tee it up, give it 110% and win some points. It's pretty cool to be in the team and I can't wait to get on the plane."

Westwood, Kaymer and Pieters are added to the nine men who qualified automatically: Danny Willett, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Chris Wood, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Andy Sullivan and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Martin Kaymer

It means that Clarke takes a team to the USA containing six rookies - Willett, Wood, Cabrera-Bello, Sullivan, Fitzpatrick and Pieters.

Contrast that with the American team. Eight players have qualified and Davis Love, the US captain, will name three wild cards on September 11 and his final pick after the Tour Championship on Sunday, September 25 to avoid a repetition of the farcical situation that occurred in 2014 when Billy Horschel, in the form of his life, won the FedEx Cup and missed out on the Ryder Cup because the team had already been selected.

The eight qualifiers are Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed and Brandt Snedeker. The only first-timer is Koepka, who is one of the best young golfers in the world. There are two sides to this, of course - it means that the other seven have all experienced defeat at the hands of previous European teams.

Clarke will not admit it, of course, but he must have concerns about the form of Danny Willett, the Masters champion, who has struggled since his memorable triumph at Augusta in April. He will have no concerns about McIlroy, Rose, Garcia and Stenson, who have all proved in the past that the Ryder Cup brings out the best in them. Fitzpatrick is another big-time player who could be the star of the show. Cabrera-Bello and Wood have had the seasons of their lives and are unlikely to let Europe down. Sullivan had a terrific run of form during the summer and although he has gone off the boil slightly in recent weeks, he is desperate to face the Americans.

Westwood will be playing in his 10th Ryder Cup and brings vast experience of the competition to the team. In effect, he will fill the role of Clarke's playing captain. Kaymer has not had a brilliant season, but he did hole the winning putt at Medinah in 2012, is a big occasion player and has shown signs of his best form recently.

The 2016 Ryder Cup European Team

Lee Westwood

Danny Willett


Rory McIlroy

Ryder Cup appearances: 3 (2010, 2012, 2014)
Overall match record: 6-4-4
Foursomes record: 3-2-1
Fourballs record: 1-2-2
Singles record: 2-0-1
Total points: 8

Henrik Stenson

Ryder Cup appearances: 3 (2006, 2008, 2014)
Overall match record: 5-4-2
Foursomes record: 2-1-1
Fourballs record: 2-1-1
Singles record: 1-2-0
Total points: 6

Sergio Garcia

Ryder Cup appearances: 7 (1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014)
Overall match record: 18-9-5
Foursomes record: 9-2-2
Fourballs record: 6-3-3
Singles record: 3-4-0
Total points: 20.5

Justin Rose

Ryder Cup appearances: 3 (2008, 2012, 2014)

Overall match record: 9-3-2
Foursomes record: 4-1-1
Fourballs record: 2-2-1
Singles record: 2-0-1
Total points: 10

Chris Wood


Rafa Cabrera-Bello


Andy Sullivan


Matt Fitzpatrick


Thomas Pieters


Lee Westwood

Ryder Cup appearances 9 (1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014)

Overall match record 18-13-6

Foursomes record 9-2-4

Fourballs record 7-5-2

Singles record 2-6-0

Total points 21

Singles: Played 7, Won 2, Lost 5, Halved 0 Foursomes: Played 13, Won 7, Lost 2, Halved 4 Fourballs: Played 13, Won 7, Lost 4, Halved 2

Martin Kaymer

Ryder Cup appearances 3 (2010, 2012, 2014)

Overall match record

Foursomes record 0-0-2

Fourballs record 2-2-1

Singles record 2-1-0

Total points 5.5


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