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Published: 15:37 | 23/8/16

Clarke pleased with shape of European team


European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke is delighted with the nine automatic qualifiers for next month's competition at Hazeltine.

The nine automatic qualifiers were confirmed with a week to spare with England's Matt Fitzpatrick sealing the final qualifier spot in Clarke's team by finishing fifth in the D+D REAL Czech Masters.

Clarke will name his three wildcards on August 30 but as things stand five rookies will be making the trip to Minnesota as Europe seek a fourth successive win over the United States.

As well as Fitzpatrick, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Andy Sullivan, Danny Willett and Chris Wood will make their debut in the biennial contest alongside Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose and Clarke believes the current line-up offers a 'fantastic blend of youth and experience'.

"I am absolutely delighted with the nine players who have qualified for The 2016 European Ryder Cup team. They offer not only a fantastic blend of youth and experience but also, already, some exciting partnership possibilities," Clarke said.

“In the experienced corner we have the two men who have lit up the world of golf in recent weeks – Open champion Henrik Stenson and Olympic champion Justin Rose – joined by Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy who, aside from being two of the most dynamic Ryder Cup performers of recent years, are also winners this year in their own right: Sergio in the US and Rory in Europe.

“In the rookies’ corner, it is very rare you begin any such list with the reigning Masters champion but we are fortunate to do just that with Danny Willett, while Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan and Chris Wood bring a mixture of consistency and success that any Ryder Cup captain looks for over the course of a qualification campaign."

Meanwhile, the eight automatic qualifiers for the United States will be determined after this week's Barclays Tournament in New York.

U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker and Brooks Koepka are set to play under Davis Love III, while Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler will battle it out for the final three spots.

Love will select three wildcards on September 11 after the conclusion of the BMW Championship, with the fourth and final captain's pick announced on September 25 following the conclusion of the Tour Championship.

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