Opportunity Knox For European Ryder Cup Wildcard
No sooner has the Olympics finished that attention switches to the Ryder Cup off the back of the top nine confirmed European players on Monday. Golf has seen it's share of the limelight from Rio, with Justin Rose taking gold in Brazil and silencing the doubters as to whether the sport should even be in the Olympics.
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Rose takes his place in Darren Clarke's Europe side qualifying in sixth place on the world points list alongside established stars of the sport such as Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia.
It's that quartet who carry the majority of experience going into the 2016 Ryder Cup, with Clarke having to bed in a minimum of five rookies into his side at Hazeltine on September 30th.
Masters champion Danny Willett is joined by compatriots Chris Wood, Andy Sullivan and Matt Fitzpatrick as debutants alongside the talented Rafa Cabrera Bello as Clarke mulls over who his remaining three captain picks will be.
It's no easy task for Clarke, the likeable Ulsterman who will have to make some tough decisions.
Experience Could Be Key
The betting would have it that Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood are certainties. Kaymer is best price 1/16 to make a third appearance for Europe with Bet Victor whilst he's as short as 1/100 with Paddy Power. Veteran Westwood is another shorty in the market, 1/10 to make a ninth appearance in the European colours and the pair look nailed on to add some much needed experience to the line-up.
Kaymer holed the putt that confirmed the Ryder Cup will be staying in Europe the last time it was played in the US at Medinah in 2014 and scored two points in Gleneagles in the 2012 renewal.
Westwood is good friends with Captain Clarke and has a dearth of experience. The Englishman has a 56% win rate in the Ryder Cup and has shown good form this season, sitting just two places outside of automatic qualification in the world points list.
Russell A Worthy Wildcard
Debate is growing as to who should join them however, with money coming for Scotsman Russell Knox. Backed into 4/5 from 4/1 earlier in the week with Betfair, Knox, who plays his golf predominantly on the PGA Tour only missed out on an automatic spot by one place and is a man in form. Fourth in the Fedex Cup standings he has experience of playing in the States and has two wins to his name this season, the WGC-HSBC Champions last November along with on his last start in the Travelers a fortnight ago.
If I were Clarke I wouldn't be scared to blood six rookies, especially given who could potentially be picked in place of Knox as a third pick to make the European Team.
G-Mac May Play His Way Onto Team
Next in the betting is Graeme McDowell at 2/1 with Sky Bet but the Northern Irishman. 70th in the world rankings, fifty places below Knox he does have a good Ryder Cup pedigree having won all three matches he participated in at Gleneagles, but he's missed eight cuts on the PGA Tour this season and just a tied tenth season high on the European. G-Mac may have the ear of countryman Clarke however and a good display in the Barclays this week following on from a fifth in the Wyndham on Sunday may cloud things!
Luke Donald (8/1) played well in the Wyndham also but he's been slipping down the rankings and Shane Lowry may offer some value at 16/1 to be selected. A winner in America last season landing the Bridgestone, he was second in the US Open in June but appears to have fallen off a cliff since. A win in Denmark this week may not be enough to be picked up by Clarke.
European Team Ryder Cup Wildcard Odds
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