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Strike that: Darren Clarke now expected to pick Thomas Pieters to Ryder Cup team over Luke Donald

August 29, 2016

European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke will announce his three captain’s picks Tuesday at Wentworth. Two of them are expected to be Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer.

The third was originally believed to be Luke Donald, with one source saying, “Darren wanted more experience seeing as he has five rookies already on the team.” Another source close to Clarke had also indicated that he was leaning toward Donald, who finished second at the Wyndham Championship two weeks ago and is a veteran of four Ryder Cups, all on the winning side.

Thomas Pieters’ recent play, including a victory Sunday in Denmark, however, seems to have swayed the captain, and sources close to Clarke say that the 24-year-old Belgian will get the third pick. Pieters has finished 1-2 in his last two starts and was fourth at the Olympics. He also finished third in Thailand and second in Abu Dhabi earlier this year.

Russell Knox, whose victory earlier this month at the Travelers Championship was his second in the last eight months, was another would-be rookie who had been part of the conversation. But it appears Knox, who would have qualified for the team on his own had he been a member of the European Tour when he won in Shanghai late last year, will be on the outside looking in despite ranking in the top 20 in the world and being in the top 10 in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings.

Should Pieters be selected, half of Europe’s team would be comprised of Ryder Cup rookies.