• Thomas Pieters sealed the last spot after win in Denmark
• Luke Donald had been expected to fill the final berth
RYDER CUP | DARREN CLARKE
Had Thomas Pieters not won the Made in Denmark, it looks as though he wouldn’t have been one of Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke’s three wildcard picks.
But that spot wasn’t going to world No.20 Russell Knox – it was Luke Donald.
According to Golf Digest, late on Sunday Clarke was still planning to use his third pick on the Englishman – who has a 10-4-1 Ryder Cup record – to add experience to a European side featuring five rookies.
Read more -> Russell Knox call 'so tough', admits Clarke
News of that spread into the public domain, with bookmaker William Hill suspending betting on Donald being named in the team on Monday afternoon after a flurry of bets in the North East of England.
"Darren was definitely leaning toward experience at that point" - Rory McIlroy
But in the end, Pieters’ win – which followed up a fourth-placed finish at the Olympics and a runner-up spot at the Czech Masters – proved too hard to ignore for Clarke as he included the Belgian in his team alongside Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer.
Read more -> Russell Knox' Ryder Cup dream isn't over yet..
“Darren was definitely leaning toward experience at that point, and then Thomas did what he did,” Rory McIlroy, who has been in communication with Clarke throughout, told Golf Digest ahead of the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Clarke then called McIlroy on Monday to chat about his change of heart, but Donald himself wasn’t too disappointed about being left out in place of Pieters – who now has three European Tour wins in the last 12 months.
“I needed to play better throughout season to be more upset,” Donald told Golf Digest. “But there was a point where I had a real chance.”
Ryder Cup :: Did Clarke make the right call?
Do you think Darren Clarke was right to pick Thomas Pieters over Luke Donald right at the last minute for his Ryder Cup team? Leave your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section below.