Clarke names European Ryder Cup wildcard picks

File - In this Sunday, July 31, 2016 file photo, Martin Kaymer watches his tee shot on the sixth hole during the final round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Thomas Pieters will fill out the European team as Darren Clarke's captain's picks for the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine from September 30-Oct. 2.

The pair finished just 0.04 points apart in the final qualifying standings and, asked if he had given Clarke a headache, Pieters told Sky Sports: "I would say so".

Westwood and Kaymer had always been favourites to be selected and finished 13th and 14th on the world points list respectively, with Westwood securing a 10th consecutive appearance in the event. Finished tied sixth in the Portugal Masters last October and added a top 15 at the BMW Masters in Shanghai before a second place finish early in 2016 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. After a win in Denmark last week, Belgium's Thomas Pieters did enough to persuade Clarke to choose him over Scotland's Russell Knox.

Pieters had started the week as the form player in the field after finishing fourth at the Olympics and second in his defence of the D+D Real Czech Masters last week, and he opened with a stunning 62 in the presence of European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke on Thursday.

"Prior to that there was a few other contenders I was thinking about as well, but he went out and played unbelievably and shot 62 - one of the finest 62s I've ever witnessed - and he made it look easy".

He drives beautifully, has prodigious distance and his iron play and short game are also very good, so he has all the attributes you could need for the Ryder Cup.

Speaking via video link about what he would bring to the team, Thomas Pieters' reply was simple.

Probably the most experienced out of the trio is England's Westwood who will be representing his continent for a 10th time.

Russell Knox admits he is desperate to win the FedEx Cup to prove he should have been given a Ryder Cup wild card ahead of a player rated in the same league as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.

"I joined the European Tour and I was 100% committed to making the Ryder Cup team".

Darren played alongside him for the first two rounds and I know he was hugely impressed, telling us that Pieters was awesome and would go on to be world No1, no question.

"It's hard to be a rookie on home soil when you have the crowd cheering for you, but to be a rookie in the States and be up against it, the crowd as well as the team, it's a little extra". "He's played unbelievably well during the qualification period".

"I know Darren well and he is not sleeping much right now", Love said in a teleconference on Monday. He obviously didn't want to give me bad news but that was the decision he made. "I'm happy with the decision I made, I felt it was the best one for me, and I don't think it would have made a difference anyway".

  • Angelo Rivera