With five rookies amongst the nine automatic qualifiers for Europe’s Ryder Cup team, all the talk yesterday suggested that it would be the experienced Luke Donald claiming a wildcard place, alongside Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer.
Whilst Westwood and Kaymer have been dead certs in recent weeks, the third spot has been there for the taking. Belgian Thomas Pieters has grabbed that opportunity with both hands and becomes the sixth rookie among the 12 to represent Europe at Hazeltine in September. Pieters gave himself an outside shot of being a wildcard following his fourth place finish in Rio and narrowly missing out on defending his title at the Czech Masters the following week.
Last Wednesday Pieters was as long as 20/1, but his first round 62 (-9) in Denmark brought his odds in to best-price 4/1. He birdied his final three holes on Sunday to win the Made in Denmark title and was as short as 1/3 come Monday morning.
Scotsman Russell Knox will feel aggrieved at missing out on a place in the team having won twice on the PGA Tour this season. Had he been a member on the European Tour when he won the World Golf Championship event, he would have qualified for the Ryder Cup automatically.
The Ryder Cup gets underway on 30th September, with Team USA looking to win for the first time since 2008 in Valhalla.
Surprise inclusion of Thomas Pieters as wild card entry for #TeamEurope. Who would have been your final pick?— Oddschecker (@Oddschecker) August 30, 2016