European Ryder Cup team could be half rookies

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Scotsman Russell Knox sits fourth on the FedExCup points list but may need a strong showing at The Barclays, which opens the lucrative PGA Tour playoffs this week, to join the European Ryder Cup team.
Posted on
May 8, 2018
by
Ben Brett in
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Scotsman Russell Knox sits fourth on the FedExCup points list but may need a strong showing at The Barclays, which opens the lucrative PGA Tour playoffs this week, to join the European Ryder Cup team.

Knox has won twice this season and had a pair of runner-up finishes but landed outside the group of nine automatic qualifiers because his win at the WGC-HSBC Champions in China did not earn him Ryder Cup points as he was not a European Tour member at the time.

European captain Darren Clarke will announce on Aug. 30 three picks to complete a team that will go for an unprecedented fourth win in a row against the U.S. in the biennial event at Hazeltine in Minnesota starting on Sept. 30.

"It's important but it's not the end of the world. If he chooses not to pick me, I'm not going to sulk in the corner," Knox told reporters at Bethpage Black on Tuesday. "He has every right not to pick me. He has every right to pick me."

Knox may not be as blase about the nomination as he let on.

"No contact with Darren Clarke. They are probably keeping quiet," he said. "Hopefully I'll hear from him a week today, that's the goal.

"I feel like I've done everything I could do. I played my best. I made the commitment to join The European Tour so I was eligible. I played well. So I guess I've made my case and hopefully it's good enough."

Should Knox make the European team, he would become the sixth Ryder Cup rookie on the team, tying a record set in 2010 when Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer were among the first-timers.

Kaymer and fellow Ryder veteran Lee Westwood are rated favorites as wild card selections, with Knox, Shane Lowry and the experienced Luke Donald among others in the running.

Ryder Cup veteran Henrik Stenson said he did not think the high number of rookies would hurt Europe.

"Even though there might be rookies on the Ryder Cup team, when you have someone that's the current Masters champion (Danny Willett), you don't really put them in the rookie category," said British Open champion Stenson.

"They have all done well to get in that position and played really solid to automatically qualify.

"It's always good to have some fresh blood on there and I think we've got a strong team, despite having a lot of rookies."

Stenson, who claimed the silver medal at the Rio Olympics, said he is slowly gearing up for the next series of events.

"I haven't had more than one week off at any point since the end of May, so I guess we might not be fully charged, but we're trying to conserve energy," he said.

"I haven't touched a club for a week. Last time I played on a golf course, was that Sunday in Rio.

"So I came out...today and luckily the ball went up and it went forward."

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