‘A wonderful week for Europe’
Darren Clarke thrilled to see potential Ryder Cup stars excel at Augusta
R yder Cup captain Darren Clarke has hailed the “wonderful” performance of Europe’s top players at the Masters.
With champion Danny Willett one of seven Europeans in the top 15 at Augusta, Clarke said the final leaderboard had delivered a real positive ahead of the muchanticipated showdown with the USA in September.
“It was a wonderful week from a European perspective,” Clarke said of the Masters.
“With the winner Danny Willett and indeed Lee Westwood playing a lot better and Justin Rose and Matt Fitzpatrick, there were so many Europeans up there in the top 10.
“So it was a very positive week for the Europeans.
“It was wonderful to see - I just hope they are all in the same form when it comes to September at Hazeltine.”
Willett’s victory was the first major of the Yorkshireman’s career, but Clarke was not surprised to see him triumph at Augusta.
“He’s been playing really well now for a couple of years, I am a good friend of his, I’ve spent a lot of time with him and his game has just been getting better and better,” said Clarke. “It’s certainly no surprise whatsoever. He’s performed really well, especially of late again, and from a personal point of view I was delighted to see him win.” The 47-year-old was also thrilled to see his close friend Westwood - who finished joint second at the Masters - contending in a major once again. “To see him playing in the manner and fashion that I know he can is certainly very, very heartening,” he said. With so many up and coming stars emerging, Europe’s team is predicted to have quite a few fresh faces as they look to secure a fourth successive Ryder Cup victory.
However, Clarke insisted there was a long way to go in qualifying.
“It’s a long way off before the team is finalised, a lot of big tournaments, a lot of Ryder Cup points to be played for,” added Clarke.
“While the make-up of the team at the moment may look slightly different to what we are used to, come the end of August I think it might be a little bit different.
“But even as a captain I’m excited like everyone else to see who is going to make the team and who is going to miss out.”
The 2016 Ryder Cup is being held at Hazeltine in America and takes place from September 30 to October 2.
TALENTED TRIO: Lee Westwood, Danny Willett and Matt Fitzpatrick in action at the EurAsia Cup earlier this year