LONDON (Reuters) - Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke has hailed his “fantastic blend of youth and experience” following the confirmation of his nine automatic qualifiers for next month’s event at Hazeltine, Minnesota.
On Sunday, England’s Matt Fitzpatrick became the ninth and final qualifier to seal his spot in the team that is seeking a record fourth successive triumph over the United States.
Fitzpatrick will be one of at least five rookies lining up alongside more seasoned campaigners like Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson in the biennial contest that starts on Sept. 30.
“I am absolutely delighted with the nine players who have qualified,” Clarke said in a statement. “They offer not only a fantastic blend of youth and experience but also some exciting partnership possibilities.”
The Northern Irishman is set to name his three wildcard picks on Monday.
“In the experienced corner we have two men who have lit up the world of golf in recent weeks, Open champion Henrik Stenson and Olympic champion Justin Rose, joined by Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy who, aside from being two of the most dynamic Ryder Cup performers of recent years, are also winners this year... Sergio in the U.S. and Rory in Europe,” said Clarke.
“In the rookies’ corner it is very rare you begin any such list with the reigning Masters champion but we are fortunate to do just that with Danny Willett while Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan and Chris Wood bring a mixture of consistency and success.”
The U.S. team is also taking shape with the final three automatic places decided after this week’s Barclays tournament in New York.
Eight players automatically qualify from the points list.
U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker and rookie Brooks Koepka are set to make the team while Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler are still in the mix.
Davis Love III will add four players as captain’s picks.
Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Tony Jimenez