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Darren: why I had to leave gutted G-Mac out of Ryder

By Jim Gracey

Europe Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke has told how he calculatedly put form before friendship in his decision to omit Portrush pal Graeme McDowell from his selection for next month's showdown with the USA at Hazeltine, Minnesota.

Clarke chose Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Thomas Pieters as his wild cards to complete a 12-man team for the defence of the trophy.

It means the European team features six rookies for the first time since 2010 and the most in America since there were seven at Brookline in 1999, making Rory McIlroy a veteran at 27.

McDowell's recent form meant his record was his best hope of a wild card to his fourth Ryder Cup, having famously holed Europe's winner at Celtic Manor in 2010.

But Clarke said: "Graeme McDowell and Luke Donald, in terms of experience, could have been in the three, but those two haven't quite been on top of their own games."

Clarke's decision left McDowell admitting: "I'm gutted not to be part of the team. I simply have not put up the numbers."

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