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The Daily Herald - - SPORTS - By Steve Dou­glas

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Europe cap­tain Dar­ren Clarke opted for a mix of form and ex­pe­ri­ence in his picks for the Ry­der Cup on Tues­day, with Thomas Pi­eters, Lee West­wood and Martin Kaymer join­ing a team seek­ing an un­prece­dented fourth straight vic­tory.

Clarke said West­wood and Kaymer, both for­mer top-ranked play­ers and Ry­der Cup vet­er­ans, were “very ob­vi­ous” choices, but he had sleep­less nights over his fi­nal se­lec­tion.

It boiled down to Pi­eters vs. Rus­sell Knox, play­ers who have won events on dif­fer­ent sides of the At­lantic this month. Pi­eters, who won the Made in Den­mark on Sun­day in front of Clarke, got the nod.

“It’s one of the most dif­fi­cult pe­ri­ods in the whole of my golf­ing ca­reer,” said Clarke, who added that the phone call to let down Knox was “one of the tough­est I have ever had to make.”

The ad­di­tion of Pi­eters on Tues­day meant the Euro­pean team will have six Ry­der Cup rook­ies on the team at Hazel­tine next month.

Masters cham­pi­ons Danny Wil­lett, Chris Wood, Rafa Cabr­era-Bello, Andy Sul­li­van and Matt Fitz­patrick also will sam­ple golf’s big­gest team event for the first time. They qual­i­fied au­to­mat­i­cally along with four-time ma­jor win­ner Rory McIl­roy, Bri­tish Open cham­pion Henrik Sten­son, Olympic gold medal­ist Justin Rose, and Ser­gio Gar­cia.

That partly ex­plains Clarke’s de­sire for more bal­ance to the team, and there­fore his call for West­wood — a long­time friend — and Kaymer.

It will be the 43-year-old West­wood’s 10th straight Ry­der Cup, while two-time ma­jor cham­pion Kaymer has played in the last three Ry­der Cups and made the putt that en­sured Europe would re­tain the cup at Me­d­i­nah in 2012.

They will of­fer ex­pe­ri­enced voices in the team room.

“Be­cause all our rook­ies are play­ing fre­quently in Amer­ica now, it’s not quite what it used to be,” Clarke said. “That be­ing said, the Ry­der Cup is not like any other event.”

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