Pieters joins Westwood, Kaymer for Ryder Cup

Belgium's Thomas Pieters has been in superb form this month. He won the Made In Denmark event on Sunday, was runner-up at the Czech Masters and finished fourth at the Rio Olympics.
Belgium's Thomas Pieters has been in superb form this month. He won the Made In Denmark event on Sunday, was runner-up at the Czech Masters and finished fourth at the Rio Olympics.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Belgian rookie Thomas Pieters and experienced duo Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer were named by Europe captain Darren Clarke as wild-card picks yesterday 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 golf 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 said.

"The third choice came down to Russell Knox and Thomas Pieters.

"And 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 No. 1, 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.

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

"Last week I played with Thomas Pieters (in Denmark) and Thomas knew why I was playing with him," said Clarke.

"He played unbelievable and shot 62 and, on top of that, won the tournament."

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 per cent."

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.

American captain Davis Love will name three of his wild-card selections on Sept 11, with his final pick not being announced until five days before the tournament begins.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2016, with the headline 'Pieters joins Westwood, Kaymer for Ryder Cup'. Print Edition | Subscribe