Ryder Cup 2016: Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer & Thomas Pieters are wildcards

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Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Thomas Pieters named as European wildcards

Europe's Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke said Lee Westwood will be his "general" as he confirmed the Englishman as one of his three wildcard picks for next month's tournament.

Germany's Martin Kaymer, 31, and Belgian rookie Thomas Pieters, 24, were also selected to face the US team.

The trio have been added to the nine players who qualified automatically based on their performances.

"Everything he says, everybody sits up and listens," Clarke said.

"I have selected him because he brings something that no-one else has," he added.

The biennial event against a United States team takes place from 30 September to 2 October at Hazeltine, Minnesota.

The US team have won just one Ryder Cup - the 2008 event at Valhalla, Kentucky - since 2006 and are looking to end a run of three straight defeats to the European team.

Scotland's Russell Knox is among those to miss out - he is 10th on the World Points list for Ryder Cup rankings, so was one place outside the automatic qualification spots.

Explaining his picks, Clarke said: "In Lee Westwood I have one of most experienced Ryder Cuppers of all time - it's his 10th appearance.

"Martin Kaymer is somewhat of a Ryder Cup stalwart and another man I have enormous trust in."

Pieters, meanwhile, played alongside Clarke as he claimed the Made in Denmark title on the European Tour on Sunday - his third European Tour title in 12 months.

"Last week I played with Thomas Pieters and Thomas knew why I was playing with him and played unbelievable and shot 62 and, on top of that, won the tournament," said Clarke.

The nine qualifiers include five rookies who will be making their Ryder Cup debuts alongside established players such as Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy.

"It's going to be a very, very big task ahead of us. Those guys - the top nine - have earned their place as of right," Clarke said.

"The talent that they all possess, I have no worries at all about the strength of that team. I'll be very proud to take them."

2016 Ryder Cup qualifiers (*not played in RC before)
Rory McIlroy (NI)Dustin Johnson
Danny Willett (Eng)*Jordan Spieth
Henrik Stenson (Swe)Phil Mickelson
Chris Wood (Eng)*Patrick Reed
Sergio Garcia (Spa)Jimmy Walker
Justin Rose (Eng)Brooks Koepka*
Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa)*Brandt Snedeker
Andy Sullivan (Eng)*Zach Johnson
Matt Fitzpatrick (Eng)*(US captain has four picks)

How do the wildcards compare?

Martin Kaymer
Kaymer claimed his second major title in the 2014 US Open but six top-10s in his last 12 events earned him selection

Lee Westwood

Nine Ryder Cup appearances, world number 46, 42 professional tournament wins

Clarke on Westwood: "He is going to bring everything. Lee and I have had a great relationship, he's held my hand a few times and I've held his but that is not why he's been selected. This is his 10th Ryder Cup and there is no-one who has that experience on the team."

Martin Kaymer

Three Ryder Cup appearances, world number 50, 22 professional tournament wins

Clarke on Kaymer: "Martin brings a wealth of experience along with Lee and all the first timers will look up to them both. He is held in high regard and he's a man that we all hugely respect. He brings his golf performances but he also brings his experience to the team room."

Martin Kaymer

Thomas Pieters

Ryder Cup rookie, world number 41, three professional tournament wins

Clarke on Pieters: "I've always been a huge Thomas Pieters fan. The manner he's played in the past few tournaments, fourth in the Olympics, I found it impossible to leave him off the team."

Who are the six rookies?

Danny Willett
Englishman Danny Willett won The Masters in 2016

Along with Pieters, the European Ryder Cup team features five other rookies, including 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett.

Willett, who has just five professional tournament wins, is ranked world number 11 behind team-mates Justin Rose (10), Rory McIlroy (5) and Henrik Stenson (4).

English trio Chris Wood, 28, Andy Sullivan, 29, and 21-year-old Matt Fitzpatrick have considerably less experience with just nine professional wins between them.

Spain's 32-year-old Rafael Cabrera-Bello has not registered a professional tournament win since 2012 but the world number 27 will make his debut next month after a consistent level of golf to automatically qualify for the team.

Who will be the US wildcard picks?

Bubba Watson
Watson, a two-time Masters champion, is currently the world number seven

US captain Davis Love III will pick three wildcards to add to his eight automatic qualifiers on 12 September, with a fourth selection five days before the competition starts.

Two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson is one of the wildcard contenders, along with 2015 Scottish Open champion Rickie Fowler.

Fowler looked set to earn automatic selection before losing out to Patrick Reed in the final round at The Barclays last weekend.

World number 15 Matt Kuchar is also said to be in serious contention for one of Love's spots.

When is the Ryder Cup?

The 2016 Ryder Cup will be at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota from 30 September to 2 October as Europe try to win a fourth straight title.

Hazeltine will be one of only two golf clubs in America to have hosted every premier championship offered by the United States Golf Association and PGA.

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