After five rookies automatically qualified for Team Europe at next month’s Ryder Cup, captain Darren Clarke was always likely to redress the balance of his roster with experienced heads as his wildcard picks.
So to see his long-time playing partner Lee Westwood and Miracle at Medinah pin-up Martin Kaymer make up two thirds of those choices was nothing out of the ordinary.
Although his last tournament victory came in April last year, Westwood was runner-up at this year’s Masters and will be making his 10th consecutive appearance in the Ryder Cup. He’ll effectively act as a playing vice captain for Clarke in Hazeltine.
Kaymer can be a patchy golfer but has tended to save his best for the matchplay tournament, having won over half of the 10 matches he’s featured in. He also has his cool-as-ice putt to seal the famous 2012 comeback in Chicago as a considerable feather in his cap.
But while that pair provide familiarity their Northern Irish skipper, Clarke didn’t play it entirely safe. His decision to overlook the likes of Luke Donald, Francesco Molinari and world number 20 Russell Knox for Belgium’s Thomas Pieters perhaps raising a few eyebrows.
The 24-year-old was 8/1 to be named in Clarke’s touring party, but impressed the 2011 Open Champion when playing with him in the first two rounds of the Made In Denmark tournament last week. Pieters shot 62 and 71 in those 36 holes and went on to win the tournament.
In actuality, his inclusion for the Ryder Cup shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as he’s been in red-hot form of late.
Starting out with an agonising fourth place at the Rio Olympics, Pieters came second when defending his Czech Masters title then went one better in Scandinavia most recently.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.