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Pieters, not Willett, paired with Westwood in foursomes

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CHASKA, Minn. – Danny Willett will spend the Friday morning session rooting on his teammates after he was one of the four players that European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke chose to sit for the opening foursomes. 

Clarke said that the decision to bench Willett was not because of the distraction caused by Willett’s brother, Pete, who earlier this week wrote an inflammatory blog post criticizing American golf fans. 

Instead of being paired with Willett – as many expected, given their practice-round groupings – Lee Westwood will instead go off with rookie Thomas Pieters in the final match Friday morning. Clarke said setting up his practice groups was a “little bit of cat-and-mouse.” 

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Westwood and Pieters will face Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson.

“I have a plan with what I’m going to try and execute this week, and Danny is fine,” Clarke said. “Danny is ready to go. He wants to play. He’s like all the guys – he’s disappointed he’s not playing in the morning, and he understands what I’m trying to do is for the team. There is no individual in our 12. It’s about the team.”

Westwood, the most experienced member of the European team, has a 9-4-4 mark in foursomes. 

Clarke said putting the seasoned Westwood and talented Pieters together “seemed like a bit of a natural pairing for me.”