Aug 30th, 2016
Lee Westwood confident that rookies can handle it
And why Russell Knox shot himself in the foot
Words: John Dean Photography: Getty Images
Lee Westwood is totally confident that Europe's six Ryder Cup rookies have the bottle to handle what is likely to be a very hostile American crowd at Hazeltine.
The six rookies are Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Andy Sullivan, Matt Fitzpatrick and Chris Wood.
"I think they can take a fight and a bit of stick," said Westwood, for whom it will be his 10th Ryder Cup.
"There's a lot of experience there. So I'm still very positive. I think we've got some world-class players."
Sullivan, ranked 42 in the world, also believes the rookies will be able to deal with the pressure.
"We are professional golfers and if we can't go out there and handle ourselves in the hostile conditions, we shouldn't be playing," he told BBC Radio 5 live.
"A lot of the guys like to show their emotions, me being one of them. When you hole a long putt and give it a fist pump, it's all part of it and I quite like that."
It also now appears that Russell Knox could have made it to one of the automatic spots, as DC asked him to play in the Wyndham Championship, which was a ranking event.
However, Knox had just won the Travelers Championship and chose not to enter.
"I decided to take two weeks off to enjoy my win and I will never regret doing that," he told BBC Sportsound.
That, combined with the fact that he was not officially a European Tour player when he won the WGC-HSBC in Shanghai, seems to have been another own goal for the Scotsman, who plays most of his golf in the US.
Leaving out Knox was one of the hardest decisions DC “has ever had to make”, but ultimately that’s his say as Captain, and we think he made the right call. His omission will also put further pressure on the three wild card picks, who will be desperate to warrant their inclusion. That will be just another layer of drama to savour.