Darren Clarke said it was ‘difficult’ not selecting Graeme McDowell for Europe’s Ryder Cup team but pointed to his lack of form.
The 48-year-old Northern Irishman will captain Europe as they look to make it four successive Ryder Cup wins against the United States at Hazeltine in Minnesota between September 30 and October 2.
And having rookies Danny Willett, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Chris Wood, Andy Sullivan and Matthew Fitzpatrick making his team automatically, Clarke was expected to add some experienced heads into the mix when he named his three captain’s picks last week.
Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer got the nod, along with another rookie in the shape of Denmark’s Thomas Pieters, which left McDowell left out in the cold.
Clarke insisted that he would love to have had his fellow compatriot and friend in the team, but he had fallen short of making the required grade with his form this year.
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He said: “G-Mac is a good friend and I was speaking to him frequently during the qualifying process. It was very difficult, but he is just not firing on all cylinders right now.”
McDowell has been a big part of Europe’s Ryder Cup successes in recent years and he holed the winning putt at Celtic Manor in 2010.
And Clarke has praised the way the 2010 US Open champion has handled the disappointment of missing out in 2016.
He added: “The messages he has sent show the class of the man. He has been wishing us all the best and volunteering to help in any way he can.”