Did Darren Clarke make the right picks?August 30, 2016 The Scoop
The NCG team consider the European team skipper's wild card selections...
Steve Carroll: So we now know the identity of the European dozen. Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Thomas Pieters have been named as the wild cards for Hazeltine.
Clarke has confessed to spending some sleepless nights agonising over his trio, and there will no doubt be some very disappointed golfers after being spurned by the skipper.
If his squad win in Minnesota, he will be praised as a hero. Lose and the critics will pore through his choices to find fault.
Personally, I am delighted that Pieters has made the team. You can’t do much more than finish runner-up and win in consecutive weeks.
It would have been a slap in the face to the Belgian, and gone against everything the wild cards stand for, if he had not been in the outfit.
But am I right? If you were Darren Clarke, who would you have saved a space for on the Ryder Cup plane?
Mark Townsend: Normally there is one pick that seems to offend everyone, this year there’s none of that really.
Pieters is supposedly the one the caddies all talk about in reverential tones, he looks the part and, with the pressure on, has finished 4-2-1 in his last three starts.
Donald and McDowell can have no complaints. It is odd though how things change. When we left Gleneagles McDowell was the most useful team man, shepherding Dubuisson through his debut, and now he doesn’t get a look in.
Knox is unfortunate in that there are already so many rookies. Most other years his form would probably warrant a pick.
Clarke’s curious team
Dan Murphy: It’s a curious team in that it is both highly experienced (Westwood has played nine, Garcia seven, McIlroy/Rose/Stenson/Kaymer three apiece) and highly inexperienced (six rookies). No-one has played one or two matches previously.
If he wants, Clarke can make plenty of veteran/rookie partnerships up. He’s not exactly struggling for some wise heads in the opening foursomes or to lead us off in the singles.
There’s no way he was going to leave Westwood out. Kaymer has won two Majors, a Players and holed the winning putt in the Ryder Cup.
Pieters has just won, playing alongside the captain for the first two days. It all seems pretty sensible to me.
Neither Donald nor McDowell did enough for me. Knox is maybe a little unlucky but I don’t feel like his absence substantially weakens our team in any way.
My bigger concern is a lack of form – you could argue only Rose, Stenson and Pieters are at the top of their game and the Open champion has injury concerns.
James Broadhurst: I know he was never really in the equation, but I would have loved to have seen Clarke take a punt on ‘Beef’.
He would help get the crowd going and take a lot of the focus/pressure off his playing partner.
But I can’t really argue with Westwood, Kaymer and Pieters. Solid choices.
James Savage: In reference to Dan’s point about form, I think Ryder Cup qualification has been weighing on the minds of the likes of Wood, Fitzpatrick and Sullivan.
Now they know they are on they team they have a chance to relax and find a bit of form over the next few weeks.
Jake Rhodes: Knox has to feel hard done by and, in my opinion, his season should warrant a pick over Kaymer.
Jamie Millar: Can’t argue with the choices too much, I think.
I would of loved to have seen Beef there too. I think he would of got the crowd going Poulter-style, which would have been great entertainment. He’s not been in bad form this year either!
Knox does have to feel hard done by, though. It was either him or Pieters and it seems he drew the short straw.
MT: I think there’s an element of Knox not being a particularly ‘sexy’ golfer. Not saying that’s the reason he didn’t get a pick but, if say, for example, it was Shane Lowry then there might have been a bit more clamour from all quarters to get a pick.