No Irish golfers included in wildcard picks for Ryder Cup Team

No Irish golfers included in wildcard picks for Ryder Cup Team

However, the 38-year-old h as never been on the losing side in four Ryder Cup appearances and was second in the Wyndham Championship earlier this month.

And that means there is no place in the team for Scotland's world number 20 Russell Knox, who finished 10th in qualifying, just 0.04 points ahead of Pieters.

Pieters would have been a lock, if not for the fact that out of the nine players who have qualified automatically for the team, five are Ryder Cup rookies.

Westwood and Kaymer have always been favourites to be selected, with Westwood a good friend and former Ryder Cup partner of Clarke who is seeking a 10th consecutive appearance in the event.

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.

"I am really proud of myself and just amazed how much confidence Darren has in me", said the 24-year-old, who shot an opening 62 in Denmark while paired with Clarke.

Although the two-time major champion hasn't tasted victory worldwide since a wire-to-wire win at the 2014 US Open, his experience, form and reliability will lead to him having a pivotal role in Europe's tournament defence.

But Knox opted to rest up to prepare for the FedEx series - where he is now sitting seventh and very much in the hunt to win - believing he already had a solid case for a wild card. "That was an incredibly hard decision and I have not slept an bad lot; having to phone Russell was one of the toughest phone calls I have ever had to make".

"Then it came down to the choice between Russell Knox and Thomas Pieters".

In addition to this Clarke told Sky Sports News HQ on his decision of including Westwood and Kaymer and said "In Lee Westwood I've got one of the most experienced "Ryder Cuppers" of all time".

"I got the phone call and I was just over the moon", Pieters said, who has had making the Ryder Cup on his "bucket list" since he was a freshman at the University of IL.

As I've spoken all along with the qualification process and how the team was shaping up, I was going to look towards experience and in Lee (Westwood) and Martin (Kaymer) I have two former world number ones.

"The last was very hard".

Clarke was looking to balance out the team with experienced wild-card picks, putting Luke Donald - another former No. 1 and a four-time Ryder Cup victor - in contention to join Westwood and Donald. Playing only 13 times worldwide in 2016, Westwood got off the a great start with a T2 finish at The Masters.

That means there will be no "fear factor" in facing such players at Hazeltine, but the three-time European Tour victor added: "It's going to be a matter of dealing with the crowds I think".

"The talent they all possess, I have no worries at all about the strength of that team going to America", Clarke said. Neither player had won this season, and both were disappointed to rely on a captain's pick to make the team, but both offer Clarke stability on a team filled with question marks. "It's a team that's going to go there and do everything we possibly can to bring that trophy back home again". "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".

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