Darren's Blog

Regular updates on what I have been up to around the world.

Pieters and Lee Go Wild with Martin
1 September 2016

Well, that's it then, I can finally get some sleep.

I knew accepting the Captain's job for this year's Ryder Cup would involve having to make some tough decisions, but I didn't realise just how tough.

Having to phone Russell Knox and tell him he wouldn't be part of the European team at Hazeltine was the hardest thing I have had to do in my sporting life.

I knew exactly how the Scot would feel because I was in the same position in 2008 when Nick Faldo called me to say I wasn't in the team for Valhalla when I too thought I had done enough to earn a wild card.

I wasn't on the phone too long with Russell, but he graciously accepted the decision and I was pleased when he said afterwards that he would do everything he could in the coming weeks to prove me wrong.   I wish him all the very best in his quest to win the FedEx.

I rang all the players who had been in contention for a place and hadn't made it and it wasn't easy, but Russell's call was the first and by far the hardest.

The last and easiest was that to Thomas Pieters, the young Belgian who I confidently predict will become a major force in the game.

I played with Tiger when he was an amateur and I've played and known Rory since he was a youngster and I have no hesitation in saying that Thomas can join them as a world No.1.  He's that good and I'm equally sure he will prove a worthy addition to the team to face the Americans.

As will the two former world No.1's who filled the rest of the wild card places.   Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer have made their cases known throughout the summer and I couldn't ignore them.  What's more, I know I can count on them.

So we go to Minnesota with six regulars and six rookies and I could not be happier or more proud of the 12 who will represent Europe.  We have a young, exciting and thoroughly capable side.   They are ready and will do what Europe always does best.  They will stand shoulder to shoulder with one another and give everything they have to the cause.

Now that the team is determined, the next job will be deciding pairings and that may even go down to the last day before the event starts.  I've lost count of the number of pieces of paper I've had to throw away already with potential pairings written down that can no longer be implemented.

These are things I won't have to lose much sleep over, but the wild cards were a whole different matter.


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