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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 September 2006, 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK
Clarke and Westwood get wildcards
Darren Clarke (L) and Lee Westwood
Clarke and Westwood are good friends off the course
Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood have been confirmed as European Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam's wildcard picks for this month's event in Ireland.

The pair got the nod ahead of the likes of Thomas Bjorn and Ian Poulter for the match at the K Club near Dublin.

Both players were involved in Europe's victory over the USA at Oakland Hills in 2004.

Earlier, Paul McGinley and Jose Maria Olazabal secured the final two automatic places on the European team.

Clarke has yet to return to action following the death of his wife Heather last month.

But the Dungannon golfer will play at the Madrid Masters - a week before the Ryder Cup starts on 22 September.

Woosnam said: "Darren is a great competitor. It's going to be an emotional time for him but I'm sure he will cope well.

"Lee has played some great golf over the past few months. His experience is vital and he has won twice at the K Club before.

"Lee and Darren have played well together in Ryder Cups before which was a consideration but they have also put in good performances with other partners.

RYDER CUP BLOG
Iain Carter
BBC Radio Five Live golf correspondent

"Choosing the wildcard picks has been the most difficult decision I have had to make in my life," added Woosnam.

"I won't say who missed out, just that it was an incredibly tough decision.

"I only made my mind up an hour ago. I will ring those who missed out over the next day or so and tell them I made the decision with my heart."

Clarke said: "I was both honoured and delighted.

"I would not have considered making myself available unless I felt I could contribute to the cause.

"It's going to be fantastic to play in Ireland and it will be a great occasion for everybody.

"I would not have wanted to miss it - and neither would my lovely wife Heather."

It is almost certain that the man who Woosnam had most difficulty leaving out was Bjorn, who is ranked higher in the world than Westwood and at 13th in the points table finished eight places ahead of him.

"Devastated does not even come close," was Bjorn's reaction to missing out.

Olazabal and McGinley were in danger of dropping out after McGinley missed the cut at this weekend's BMW International Open while Olazabal did not compete in Munich.

Paul Broadhurst and Bjorn could have gone above them during the final round but did not take their chance.

I feel a great weight has been lifted

Paul McGinley

There were raised eyebrows when last month Olazabal decided to miss the BMW International Open, citing tiredness, even though it could have cost him his place.

And McGinley, who has only one top-10 finish since January, also faced a nervy weekend after rounds of 75 and 72 left him on three over in Munich.

But despite the vulnerability of both players, none of the chasing pack were able to overtake them in the list.

So McGinley earns a third successive cap while Olazabal returns for the first time since 1999.

"It's a huge relief. I've been under a great deal of pressure and I feel a great weight has been lifted," said McGinley.

"Now I can get ready for one of the biggest weeks in my life without worrying or having to look over my shoulder.

"It's going to be a fantastic week and I would have hated not to be part of it."

He will do his best to be a very positive element in the team

Jose Maria Olazabal's manager Sergio Gomez

Olazabal's manager Sergio Gomez added: "Jose is delighted to be in the team - and much more delighted than if he had been a pick.

"I spoke to him an hour ago and he said he will do his best to be a very positive element in the team.

"He does not forget that in the singles in 1993 he was beaten by Raymond Floyd when he was 51. Jose still loves the game and keeps himself as fit as possible."


Ryder Cup team: David Howell, Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Colin Montgomerie, Henrik Stenson, Robert Karlsson, Padraig Harrington, Paul McGinley, Jose Maria Olazabal, Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood.

EUROPEAN RYDER CUP TEAM

 

US RYDER CUP TEAM

 

SEE ALSO
K Club calling
28 Aug 06 |  Golf


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