Europe’s Ryder Cup rookies could be spared foursomes
EUROPE will field six rookies in September’s Ryder Cup against the US but captain Darren Clarke may not pick many of the newcomers in the foursomes matches, says wildcard choice Martin Kaymer.
Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Andy Sullivan, Matt Fitzpatrick and Thomas Pieters will make their first appearances in the competition when Europe defend the trophy at Hazeltine, Minnesota.
The team event comprises two sessions each of fourballs and foursomes plus 12 singles on the final day and Kaymer hinted that the holders would opt for experience in the alternate-shot format.
“In foursomes I believe the statistics say that with two rookies playing together there is a 7% chance they will win their match,” the 31-year-old German said.
“I don’t know how Darren will set up the team but I think especially in the foursomes you need experienced players, so I don’t know how many rookies he will put in that format.”
Kaymer was selected by Clarke as one of three wild-cards, along with Belgian Pieters and 43-yearold Englishman Lee Westwood.
The winner of the 2014 US Open and 2010 US PGA Championship will be featuring in his fourth Ryder Cup but he does not see himself team leader.
“I wouldn’t call myself a Ryder Cup veteran; Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia are veterans,” said Kaymer, a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz, official patron and vehicle of the Ryder Cup.
“Some people say I have more of a leader’s role this time but that’s not how I see it. It’s not really in my character to be a leader, but I will be there for any of the rookies if they need any help.
“Lee is the most experienced player in our team. He took me under his wing when I played in my first Ryder Cup in 2010.”
Despite his two Major championship triumphs and the eight weeks he spent at the top of the world rankings in 2011, Kaymer said he attracted more attention for his Ryder Cup exploits than anything else.
The normally placid German celebrated wildly when he sank an eight-foot putt at the 18th hole to defeat Steve Stricker and seal Europe’s comeback victory in Illinois four years ago.
“People recognise my name more for the Ryder Cup than they do for my Major wins,” said Kaymer. “That shows how important the competition is in the world of golf and in sport generally.”
Kaymer will prepare by playing in the Italian Open, which starts on Thursday, and next week’s European Open in Germany.
“I’m going to be working a little bit more on my short game over the next couple of weeks because in match play you have got to make those important putts,” he said.
This is the first time Kaymer has had to rely on a captain’s pick to make the team but he believes it will have no bearing on his performance or mind-set.
“I won’t give any less or any more than if I had gained automatic selection. I am part of the team and I’ve got to deliver.”
Europe will bid to win the Ryder Cup for the fourth time in a row from September 30 to October 2.