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Pieters’ power play won Ryder Cup call-up, says Clarke

LONDON (Reuters) – Thomas Pieters gave Darren Clarke a close-up view of his talent when he shot a 62 playing alongside Europe’s Ryder Cup captain in Denmark last week.

Clarke asked to partner the 6ft 5in Belgian at the Made in Denmark event in Farso and saw him excel with a first round that equaled the course record in an event he went on to win by posting birdies on the last three holes of his final round.

“Last week I played with him and it was one of the finest 62s I have ever witnessed,” Clarke told a news conference on Tuesday when he confirmed Pieters as one of his three wildcard picks.

“He didn’t hole anything for it. Normally when someone shoots a really low number, they hole a couple of 30 footers or they chip it in,” said Clarke.

“He made the game look ridiculously easy. He has impressed me so much I found it impossible to leave him out. He has the talent to go all the way to the top of the world in my belief. He is a very gifted young man but also a very funny young man.”

To prove the point, Clarke revealed that Pieters had just texted him to see if had remembered to switch his phone off as the Ulsterman prepared to face the cameras at Wentworth.

“He just sent me a message before we went on air, saying: ‘Testing, testing, is your phone off?’ That’s why I was laughing. I am delighted to have him as part of the team.”

Pieters, the world number 41, will be only the second Belgian after Nicolas Colsaerts to play in the Ryder Cup.

The 24-year-old’s game is built on power and, after turning professional in 2013, he has quickly forged a reputation as one of the longest drivers in the game.

That win in Denmark was his third on the European Tour over the past year, and part of a rich vein of August form in which he also finished second in the Czech Masters and fourth in the Olympics.

But Pieters has never been close to a major – his best position was 30th at the 2016 British Open – and his selection represents a gamble for Clarke, who could have chosen either Luke Donald or Russell Knox, both of whom are more experienced in American conditions.

Pieters is one of six rookies and no previous European team has won in the United States with such a callow line-up.

Clarke remains unconcerned, believing that with former world number ones Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer also on board, Europe have the right balance of raw talent and experience to post their fourth successive Ryder Cup victory.

(Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Pieters’ power play won Ryder Cup call-up, says Clarke

Golf-Pieters’ power play won Ryder Cup call-up, says Clarke

LONDON, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Thomas Pieters gave Darren Clarke a close-up view of his talent when he shot a 62 playing alongside Europe’s Ryder Cup captain in Denmark last week.

Clarke asked to partner the 6ft 5in Belgian at the Made in Denmark event in Farso and saw him excel with a first round that equalled the course record in an event he went on to win by posting birdies on the last three holes of his final round.

“Last week I played with him and it was one of the finest 62s I have ever witnessed,” Clarke told a news conference on Tuesday when he confirmed Pieters as one of his three wildcard picks.

“He didn’t hole anything for it. Normally when someone shoots a really low number, they hole a couple of 30 footers or they chip it in,” said Clarke.

“He made the game look ridiculously easy. He has impressed me so much I found it impossible to leave him out. He has the talent to go all the way to the top of the world in my belief. He is a very gifted young man but also a very funny young man.”

To prove the point, Clarke revealed that Pieters had just texted him to see if had remembered to switch his phone off as the Ulsterman prepared to face the cameras at Wentworth.

“He just sent me a message before we went on air, saying: ‘Testing, testing, is your phone off?’ That’s why I was laughing. I am delighted to have him as part of the team.”

Pieters, the world number 41, will be only the second Belgian after Nicolas Colsaerts to play in the Ryder Cup.

The 24-year-old’s game is built on power and, after turning professional in 2013, he has quickly forged a reputation as one of the longest drivers in the game.

That win in Denmark was his third on the European Tour over the past year, and part of a rich vein of August form in which he also finished second in the Czech Masters and fourth in the Olympics.

But Pieters has never been close to a major – his best position was 30th at the 2016 British Open – and his selection represents a gamble for Clarke, who could have chosen either Luke Donald or Russell Knox, both of whom are more experienced in American conditions.

Pieters is one of six rookies and no previous European team has won in the United States with such a callow line-up.

Clarke remains unconcerned, believing that with former world number ones Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer also on board, Europe have the right balance of raw talent and experience to post their fourth successive Ryder Cup victory.

(Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Golf-Pieters’ power play won Ryder Cup call-up, says Clarke

Westwood, Kaymer, Pieters Europe’s Ryder Cup wildcards

Wentworth (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke announced England’s Lee Westwood, Germany’s Martin Kaymer and Thomas Pieters of Belgium as his three wildcards on Tuesday.

With rookies taking up five of the nine automatic qualifying places, Clarke had been expected to turn to experienced Ryder Cup campaigners Westwood and Kaymer.

Pieters, 24, was picked ahead of Scotland’s Russell Knox, having bolstered his case for inclusion with a stunning opening round of 62 alongside Clarke at last week’s Made in Denmark tournament.

“It came down to Thomas Pieters and Russell Knox, and the phonecall to Russell was one of the hardest I have ever had to make,” Clarke told a press conference at Wentworth.

“But given his form, I found it impossible to leave Thomas out.”

Westwood, 43, will be making his 10th consecutive Ryder Cup appearance. He finished 13th on the world points list, one place above Kaymer.

Westwood has not won a tournament since April 2015, but he came joint-second behind compatriot Danny Willett — one of Clarke’s automatic picks — at this year’s Masters.

He also recorded four other top-15 finishes.

“I’m incredibly proud,” said Westwood. “When I look back over my career, the Ryder Cup has provided most of the very special moments.

“Myself and Darren are very close and I was very relieved and thrilled to get the pick.”

– ‘Crazy’ –

Kaymer, 31, has not lifted a trophy since claiming his second major title at the 2014 US Open, but delivered six top-10 finishes in his last 12 events.

He has played in Europe’s last three Ryder Cup wins and sank the putt that completed the European team’s stunning comeback to defeat the United States in 2012’s ‘Miracle of Medinah’.

“Narrowing it down to those three wildcards has been a very difficult process, but I said that I was going to look to experience and with Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer I had two former world number ones,” Clarke added.

“The last one was very difficult. Graeme McDowell and Luke Donald had an argument with their experience to join that, but they would admit that they have not been on top of their game.

“Last week I played with Thomas Pieters (in Denmark) and Thomas knew why I was playing with him. He played unbelievable, shot 62 and, on top of that, won the tournament.”

Pieters’s victory in Denmark followed a fourth-place finish at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and a runner-up showing at the Czech Masters.

Appearing via video link, Pieters said: “It’s a little bit crazy, especially closing out the tournament like I did on Sunday. I can’t wait to tee it up and give it 110 percent.”

Europe will be seeking a fourth consecutive Ryder Cup victory over the United States when the teams face off at Hazeltine in Minnesota from September 30 to October 2.

American team captain Davis Love III will name three of his fourth captain’s picks after the BMW Championship, which runs from September 8 to 11.

He will announce his fourth and final wildcard after the Tour Championship, which concludes on September 25.

European Ryder Cup team (* denotes wildcard)

Rory McIlroy (NIR), Danny Willett (ENG), Henrik Stenson (SWE), Chris Wood (ENG), Sergio Garcia (ESP), Justin Rose (ENG), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (ESP), Andy Sullivan (ENG), Matt Fitzpatrick (ENG), Lee Westwood (ENG)*, Martyn Kaymer (GER)*, Thomas Pieters (BEL)*

Taken from – 

Westwood, Kaymer, Pieters Europe’s Ryder Cup wildcards

Pieters, Westwood, Kaymer named as Europe’s Ryder Cup wildcards

LONDON (Reuters) – Belgian rookie Thomas Pieters and experienced duo Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer were named by Europe captain Darren Clarke as wildcard picks on Tuesday to complete his Ryder Cup team.

Clarke opted for the powerful 24-year-old Pieters over Scotland’s Russell Knox and England’s Luke Donald, bringing to six the number of rookies in the 12-man team who will defend the trophy against the United States in Hazeltine, Minnesota.

“Lee Westwood is one of the most experienced Ryder Cup players of all time and Martin is also a Ryder Cup stalwart,” Clarke told reporters at Wentworth on Tuesday.

“The third choice came down to Russell Knox and Thomas Pieters. I had to phone Russell and tell him yesterday. It was probably one of the toughest calls I’ve had to make. But the way Thomas has played golf over the last four weeks has impressed me so much I found it impossible to leave him out.”

Englishman Westwood, the former world number one, first played in the biennial team event in 1997 and will be representing Europe for the 10th successive time.

Twice major winner Kaymer of Germany has featured in the last three Ryder Cups, all won by Europe.

Belgium’s Pieters has produced excellent form this month. He won the Made In Denmark event, was runner-up at the Czech Masters and finished fourth in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Europe’s nine automatic picks were confirmed earlier this month.

Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Andy Sullivan and Matt Fitzpatrick will also be new to the tournament. The other automatic selections, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose, have all experienced the Ryder Cup before.

Europe are out to win the Ryder Cup for the ninth time in 11 editions when the competition starts at Hazeltine National Golf Club on Sept. 30 and Clarke said he was confident his team would thrive.

“It will be a very tough task,” he said. “(The American) team is shaping up very strongly, but my players are world class in their own right. I am proud of this team and have no worries about them at all.”

American captain Davis Love will name three of his wildcard selections a week on Sunday, with his final pick not being announced until five days before the tournament begins.

(Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Ed Osmond)

Original article:  

Pieters, Westwood, Kaymer named as Europe’s Ryder Cup wildcards

Golf-Pieters, Westwood, Kaymer named as Europe’s Ryder Cup wildcards

* Pieters, Westwood, Kaymer get wildcards

* Clarke picks in-form Belgian

* Captain banks on experience of Westwood, Kaymer (Adds quotes)

LONDON, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Belgian rookie Thomas Pieters and experienced duo Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer were named by Europe captain Darren Clarke as wildcard picks on Tuesday to complete his Ryder Cup team.

Clarke opted for the powerful 24-year-old Pieters over Scotland’s Russell Knox and England’s Luke Donald, bringing to six the number of rookies in the 12-man team who will defend the trophy against the United States in Hazeltine, Minnesota.

“Lee Westwood is one of the most experienced Ryder Cup players of all time and Martin is also a Ryder Cup stalwart,” Clarke told reporters at Wentworth on Tuesday.

“The third choice came down to Russell Knox and Thomas Pieters. I had to phone Russell and tell him yesterday. It was probably one of the toughest calls I’ve had to make. But the way Thomas has played golf over the last four weeks has impressed me so much I found it impossible to leave him out.”

Englishman Westwood, the former world number one, first played in the biennial team event in 1997 and will be representing Europe for the 10th successive time.

Twice major winner Kaymer of Germany has featured in the last three Ryder Cups, all won by Europe.

Belgium’s Pieters has produced excellent form this month. He won the Made In Denmark event, was runner-up at the Czech Masters and finished fourth in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Europe’s nine automatic picks were confirmed earlier this month.

Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Andy Sullivan and Matt Fitzpatrick will also be new to the tournament. The other automatic selections, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose, have all experienced the Ryder Cup before.

Europe are out to win the Ryder Cup for the ninth time in 11 editions when the competition starts at Hazeltine National Golf Club on Sept. 30 and Clarke said he was confident his team would thrive.

“It will be a very tough task,” he said. “(The American) team is shaping up very strongly, but my players are world class in their own right. I am proud of this team and have no worries about them at all.”

American captain Davis Love will name three of his wildcard selections a week on Sunday, with his final pick not being announced until five days before the tournament begins.

(Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Golf-Pieters, Westwood, Kaymer named as Europe’s Ryder Cup wildcards

Golf-Pieters, Westwood, Kaymer named Europe’s Ryder Cup wildcards

LONDON, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Belgian rookie Thomas Pieters and experienced duo Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer were named by European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke as his wildcard picks on Tuesday to complete his team.

Clarke opted for the powerful 24-year-old Pieters ahead of Scotland’s Russell Knox and England’s Luke Donald, bringing to six the number of rookies in the 12-man team who will defend the trophy against the United States in Hazeltine, Minnesota starting on Sept. 30. (Editing by Ed Osmond)

Continued – 

Golf-Pieters, Westwood, Kaymer named Europe’s Ryder Cup wildcards

Love to follow Azinger’s lead with captain’s Cup picks

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

(Reuters) – United States Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III says he will take a leaf out of 2008 skipper Paul Azinger’s book before he announces his four wildcard picks for this year’s competition against holders Europe.

Azinger, the most recent U.S. captain to achieve success against Europe, wanted his players to have “a vested interest” in their team at Valhalla eight years ago and he relied on the input of the automatic qualifiers for his wildcard selections.

Love, who will choose three of his captain’s picks after the BMW Championship on Sept. 11 and his final selection two weeks later after the Tour Championship, plans to follow suit for the three-day event at Hazeltine, Minnesota that starts on Sept. 30.

“Paul (Azinger) has been a great help,” Love said on a conference call on Monday. “He was successful (in 2008). There’s guys that played for him, like Phil Mickelson, that knows what went on.

“That’s what I did in 2012 is I went down the list with everybody that made it (as automatic qualifiers) on points and I said, ‘What do you think, who do you like, who do you think you would pair well with?’

“I can’t say it enough: It’s their team. Golf is different than other sports. Mental side of it is huge.”

This will be the second time Love, 52, has led the team in the biennial event as he guided the U.S. to a 10-6 lead heading into the final day in 2012 but lost by 14-1/2 points to 13-1/2 in what is known to European fans as the “Miracle at Medinah.”

“If they (the U.S. players) go in there believing in what we are telling them, that they have the best team, and that they are ready to go, then they are going to play well,” said Love.

“We need to give these guys a feeling of security. If Patrick Reed says, ‘I want you to pick this guy, I want to play with him, we won’t lose a match,’ then we’re going to take that into account.”

Love’s eight automatic qualifiers, confirmed after The Barclays ended on Sunday, are: U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Mickelson, Reed, PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker, Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker and Zach Johnson.

Among those in contention for captain’s picks to round out the 12-man team are twice Masters champion Bubba Watson, J.B. Holmes, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Justin Thomas.

“Guys that get hot the next two weeks are who we are looking at,” said Love, who is bidding to end a dominant run by the Europeans who have won three consecutive Ryder Cups and eight of the last 10.

“Anybody in the top 100 has to be on our radar, because a guy could get hot the next two weeks and move himself to the (season-ending) Tour Championship and be in the running for the FedExCup and I get to pick him on that Sunday night.

“A guy could move up 60, 70 spots by winning … we call it the “Billy Horschel rule” … for that Sunday night after the Tour Championship. If somebody gets hot, Billy Horschel wins the FedExCup again, we can take him.”

A change in the U.S. selection policy was made to ensure a player on a hot streak does not miss out on the team. Two years ago, Horschel won the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship but missed the Ryder Cup as the team had already been finalised.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Love to follow Azinger’s lead with captain’s Cup picks

Golf-Love to follow Azinger’s lead with captain’s Cup picks

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

Aug 29 (Reuters) – United States Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III says he will take a leaf out of 2008 skipper Paul Azinger’s book before he announces his four wildcard picks for this year’s competition against holders Europe.

Azinger, the most recent U.S. captain to achieve success against Europe, wanted his players to have “a vested interest” in their team at Valhalla eight years ago and he relied on the input of the automatic qualifiers for his wildcard selections.

Love, who will choose three of his captain’s picks after the BMW Championship on Sept. 11 and his final selection two weeks later after the Tour Championship, plans to follow suit for the three-day event at Hazeltine, Minnesota that starts on Sept. 30.

“Paul (Azinger) has been a great help,” Love said on a conference call on Monday. “He was successful (in 2008). There’s guys that played for him, like Phil Mickelson, that knows what went on.

“That’s what I did in 2012 is I went down the list with everybody that made it (as automatic qualifiers) on points and I said, ‘What do you think, who do you like, who do you think you would pair well with?’

“I can’t say it enough: It’s their team. Golf is different than other sports. Mental side of it is huge.”

This will be the second time Love, 52, has led the team in the biennial event as he guided the U.S. to a 10-6 lead heading into the final day in 2012 but lost by 14-1/2 points to 13-1/2 in what is known to European fans as the “Miracle at Medinah.”

“If they (the U.S. players) go in there believing in what we are telling them, that they have the best team, and that they are ready to go, then they are going to play well,” said Love.

“We need to give these guys a feeling of security. If Patrick Reed says, ‘I want you to pick this guy, I want to play with him, we won’t lose a match,’ then we’re going to take that into account.”

Love’s eight automatic qualifiers, confirmed after The Barclays ended on Sunday, are: U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Mickelson, Reed, PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker, Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker and Zach Johnson.

Among those in contention for captain’s picks to round out the 12-man team are twice Masters champion Bubba Watson, J.B. Holmes, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Justin Thomas.

“Guys that get hot the next two weeks are who we are looking at,” said Love, who is bidding to end a dominant run by the Europeans who have won three consecutive Ryder Cups and eight of the last 10.

“Anybody in the top 100 has to be on our radar, because a guy could get hot the next two weeks and move himself to the (season-ending) Tour Championship and be in the running for the FedExCup and I get to pick him on that Sunday night.

“A guy could move up 60, 70 spots by winning … we call it the “Billy Horschel rule” … for that Sunday night after the Tour Championship. If somebody gets hot, Billy Horschel wins the FedExCup again, we can take him.”

A change in the U.S. selection policy was made to ensure a player on a hot streak does not miss out on the team. Two years ago, Horschel won the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship but missed the Ryder Cup as the team had already been finalised. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Golf-Love to follow Azinger’s lead with captain’s Cup picks

Kaymer urges Europe captain to make Pieters a wildcard pick

LONDON (Reuters) – Twice major winner Martin Kaymer has urged European captain Darren Clarke to pick Belgian Thomas Pieters on Tuesday as one of his three wildcard choices for next month’s Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, Minnesota.

Pieters is in red-hot form after winning the Made In Denmark event on Sunday, finishing second at the preceding Czech Masters and claiming fourth place at this month’s Rio Olympics.

“If I would be the captain he would be my pick for sure because he brings something special to the team,” Kaymer told Sky Sports television after playing alongside the 24-year-old in the final round in Denmark.

“Thomas hits the ball very far, is very good with the short game and obviously proved he can play under pressure very well.”

Kaymer won the 2010 U.S. PGA Championship and 2014 U.S. Open and has featured in the last three Ryder Cups, all won by Europe.

The German has missed out on automatic selection this time but he and experienced Englishman Lee Westwood are expected to be two of Clarke’s wildcard choices to play the United States starting on Sept. 30.

The third pick seems to be between Pieters, Scotland’s Russell Knox and Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland who has played in each of the last four editions.

Five of the nine automatic selections, Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Andy Sullivan, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Matt Fitzpatrick, are Ryder Cup rookies so Clarke may decide to balance his 12-man team by going for experience with his wildcards.

“It would be another great experience of a golfing career to play four Ryder Cups in a row… it would be amazing,” said Kaymer who holed the putt that kept the trophy in Europe’s possession in the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in Illinois in 2012.

(Writing by Tony Jimenez; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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Kaymer urges Europe captain to make Pieters a wildcard pick

Golf-Kaymer urges Europe captain to make Pieters a wildcard pick

LONDON, Aug 29 (Reuters) – Twice major winner Martin Kaymer has urged European captain Darren Clarke to pick Belgian Thomas Pieters on Tuesday as one of his three wildcard choices for next month’s Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, Minnesota.

Pieters is in red-hot form after winning the Made In Denmark event on Sunday, finishing second at the preceding Czech Masters and claiming fourth place at this month’s Rio Olympics.

“If I would be the captain he would be my pick for sure because he brings something special to the team,” Kaymer told Sky Sports television after playing alongside the 24-year-old in the final round in Denmark.

“Thomas hits the ball very far, is very good with the short game and obviously proved he can play under pressure very well.”

Kaymer won the 2010 U.S. PGA Championship and 2014 U.S. Open and has featured in the last three Ryder Cups, all won by Europe.

The German has missed out on automatic selection this time but he and experienced Englishman Lee Westwood are expected to be two of Clarke’s wildcard choices to play the United States starting on Sept. 30.

The third pick seems to be between Pieters, Scotland’s Russell Knox and Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland who has played in each of the last four editions.

Five of the nine automatic selections, Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Andy Sullivan, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Matt Fitzpatrick, are Ryder Cup rookies so Clarke may decide to balance his 12-man team by going for experience with his wildcards.

“It would be another great experience of a golfing career to play four Ryder Cups in a row… it would be amazing,” said Kaymer who holed the putt that kept the trophy in Europe’s possession in the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in Illinois in 2012. (Writing by Tony Jimenez; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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Golf-Kaymer urges Europe captain to make Pieters a wildcard pick

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