The European team is set for the 2016 Ryder Cup. After five rookies made it on merit last week, captain Darren Clarke added one more on Tuesday, but he also called upon some depth and experience for his squad.
Clarke's three picks were Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Thomas Pieters. Everyone knew he would pick Westwood. They are old friends, epic Ryder Cup partners, and Clarke knows he can trust the Englishman. Kaymer became an obvious pick once the five rookies made the team because of his experience (he sank the winning putt in 2012 at Medinah).
It was Pieters who was a bit of a wild card. Clarke said on Tuesday in a press conference that it came down to Pieters (who won last week in Denmark) and Russell Knox (who won a few weeks ago at the Travelers Championship). Pieters also recently finished just off the medal stand at fourth in the Olympics.
"I've always been a huge Thomas Pieters fan since I first witnessed," said Clarke. "The manner in which he's played golf in these last few tournaments ... impressed me that much. I found it impossible to leave him off the team. Certainly it was one of the most difficult periods I've ever had to deal with in my golfing career."
Clarke probably made the right call here. It would have been different if Knox was a veteran who brought more experience, but either player was going to be the sixth rookie on a team of 12. Pieters can be a complete monster. He's long, brash and does not care about names like Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler. That's the kind of guy you want on this team.
The experience could be an issue, though.
"It's different having a rookie at home than it is having a rookie away," Rory McIlroy told Golf Digest recently. "Danny Willett is the Masters champ but he's still in for a rude awakening when he stands on the first tee on Friday morning at Hazeltine. It does feel different."
But Clarke's 12 players are now set barring an injury. Here they are.
- Henrik Stenson
- Justin Rose
- Rory McIlroy
- Sergio Garcia
- Matthew Fitzpatrick
- Lee Westwood
- Martin Kaymer
- Thomas Pieters
- Andy Sullivan
- Rafael Cabrera-Bello
- Chris Wood
- Danny Willett
United Staes captain Davis Love III will add three of his four captain's picks here in two weeks and one more right after the Tour Championship towards the end of September.