• Insists brother’s controversial article not the reason
• Also brushes off concerns over Englishman’s form
RYDER CUP | RYDER CUP
Darren Clarke has explained the reasons behind his decision to bench Masters champion Danny Willett for the opening foursomes session of the Ryder Cup, which gets underway today.
Willett, 28, had been widely tipped to partner fellow Englishman and ISM stablemate Lee Westwood on the opening morning of the match. However, he was surprisingly left out altogether, with Westwood teaming-up with rookie Thomas Pieters in the session’s anchor match.
Read more -> Pairings announced for opening morning of 2016 Ryder Cup
Quite reasonably, that led many to question whether or not an inflammatory article about American golf fans, written by Willett’s brother and widely shared this week, had forced Darren Clarke into leaving him out so as to avoid any hostility on the first tee, on the first morning, of his first Ryder Cup.
Not so, says the European skipper.
“Obviously, the incident that has happened has created a bit of a furore but Danny himself is the Masters champion,” said Clarke, pictured above with Willett. “He's a great golfer and he's ready to play and do what he needs to do for Europe, and he will do that.”
Clarke added that Willett will make his bow in today’s second session.
"I have no worries about Danny whatsoever, mentally or otherwise" - Darren Clarke
“I have a plan of what I'm going to try and execute this week,” he said. “Danny is fine. Danny is ready to go. He wants to play. He's like all the guys; he's disappointed he's not playing in the morning, but he understands what I'm trying to do is for the team. There is no individual in our 12. It's about the team.”
Read more -> Willett apologises for brother's 'imbeciles' rant at US fans
In response to questions over Willett’s form, raised by the his coach Pete Cowen keeping a close eye on him during the Thursday morning practice session, Clarke added: “I have no worries about Danny whatsoever, mentally or otherwise. His golf game's good.”
Clarke also went on to say that he hopes to play all 12 of his players at some point today but said that would ‘depend on how the match is progressing’.
Darren Clarke or Davis Love III: Who did the better speech?
Did you watch the opening ceremony of the Ryder Cup last night? If so, which captain do you think delivered the better speech: Darren Clarke or Davis Love III? Leave your thoughts on that and this morning’s pairings in our ‘Comments’ section below.