The nine automatic qualifiers for the European Ryder Cup Team bound for Hazeltine were confirmed last night with Captain Darren Clarke heralding the “fantastic blend of youth and experience”.
Matt Fitzpatrick sealed his Ryder Cup debut by finishing fifth in the D+D REAL Czech Masters as Thomas Pieters narrowly missed out on the victory he needed in Prague to possibly keep the qualifying race alive and with Shane Lowry finishing outside the top four in the Wyndham Championship in the US.
Europe will therefore seek a record fourth successive Ryder Cup victory with at least five rookies on the team when they take on the United States from September 30 to October 2 – Rafa Cabrera Bello, Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan, Danny Willett and Chris Wood will all be making their debuts.
Rory McIlroy, Willett, Henrik Stenson, Wood gained qualification as the current top four players on the Ryder Cup European Points List with Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Cabrera Bello, Sullivan and Fitzpatrick coming through the Ryder Cup World Points List.
European Captain Clarke will name his three wild cards to complete the 12-man team on Tuesday 30 August.
Clarke said: “I am absolutely delighted with the nine players who have qualified for The 2016 European Ryder Cup team. They offer not only a fantastic blend of youth and experience but also, already, some exciting partnership possibilities.
“In the experienced corner we have the two men who have lit up the world of golf in recent weeks – Open champion Henrik Stenson and Olympic champion Justin Rose – joined by Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy who, aside from being two of the most dynamic Ryder Cup performers of recent years, are also winners this year in their own right: Sergio in the US and Rory in Europe.
“In the rookies’ corner, it is very rare you begin any such list with the reigning Masters champion but we are fortunate to do just that with Danny Willett, while Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan and Chris Wood bring a mixture of consistency and success that any Ryder Cup captain looks for over the course of a qualification campaign.
“Now no-one else can force their way into the nine automatic spots, I am delighted to have two tournaments this week – the Made in Denmark tournament in Europe and The Barclays tournament in the US – to assess the form of potential players to fill the three Wild Card spots.”