Euro Ryder Cup Team Set Clarke Gets Nod

By Associated PressSeptember 3, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesMUNICH, Germany -- Darren Clarke, who hasn't played since the British Open while coping with his wife's death, was selected Sunday for the Ryder Cup as Europe completed its team for this month's showdown with the United States.
 
He and Lee Westwood were the two captain's picks by Ian Woosnam. Paul McGinley and Jose Maria Olazabal automatically qualified earlier in the day for the event at Ireland's K Club on Sept. 22-24. Europe is the defending champion and has captured four of the last five titles.
 
Darren Clarke
Ian Woosnam made Darren Clarke one of his two captain's selections.
The four golfers joined eight others who already had made the team: Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, David Howell, Robert Karlsson, Colin Montgomerie and Henrik Stenson.
 
Clarke and Westwood were the choices of captain Ian Woosnam. Clarke will be returning to golf after the death of his wife, Heather, on Aug. 10. He has not played competitively since July but has entered the Madrid Masters, a European tour event the week before the Ryder Cup.
 
'Clarke is not a risk given the circumstances,' Woosnam said. 'He practices every day and is going to play in the Madrid Open. I am sure he will be up for it. Darren is a great golfer and has a great Ryder Cup record.'
 
'Heather would have loved him playing in the Ryder Cup,' he added. 'He won't be thinking about anything other than winning.'
 
Woosnam, a former Masters champion, said he didn't have time to give Westwood the news. But Westwood, who played at the BMW International in Munich despite tonsillitis, was delighted when he learned of Woosnam's decision.
 
'I will do everything I possibly can to repay him at The K Club,' the Englishman said. 'Everybody loves their golf in Ireland, and it's going to be an occasion not to be missed.'
 
The U.S. has a lineup of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Chad Campbell, David Toms, Chris DiMarco, Stewart Cink, Scott Verplank, Vaughn Taylor, J.J. Henry, Zach Johnson and Brett Wetterich.
 
Europe won the last Ryder Cup 18 1/2 -9 1/2 at Oakland Hills in Michigan two years ago. The last American victory was at Brookline, Mass., in 1999.
 
'What we have got to make sure we don't do is get complacent,' Woosnam said. 'We have got to use what we have done over the last 20 years and work out why we played so well and keep doing what we are doing.'
 
This will be the third straight Ryder Cup appearance for McGinley, who captured a place despite missing the cut at the BWM International.
 
'It is a huge relief,' McGinley said. 'I have been under a great deal of pressure recently and now I feel as if a huge weight has been lifted from me.'
 
Now I can get ready for one of the biggest weeks of my life without worrying or having to look over my shoulder,' the Irishman added. 'It is going to be a fantastic week and I would have hated not to have been part of it.'
 
Olazabal, back on the team after a seven-year absence, will be in his seventh Ryder Cup. He decided to skip this week's event in Munich even though he was in danger of not getting an automatic spot.
 
Going into the final round, only Paul Broadhurst and Thomas Bjorn had a chance to catch McGinley and Olazabal for automatic spots. But Broadhurst failed to finish in the top three while Bjorn, who needed to win the title, slipped out of contention despite a 67 in the final round.
 
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