2016 Ryder Cup rookie tips: Yorkshire pair feature for Europe
Simon Sinclair | September 21, 2016
Six players will make their Ryder Cup bows for Europe as Darren Clarke’s men aim to defend the trophy at Hazeltine.
In the past, men have excelled in their first experience of the competition, and Europe will be relying on the majority of their line up to deliver.
Here, Coral examine who could be the leading rookie for Clarke’s team in Minnesota starting on September 30th.
Willett capitalised on Jordan Spieth’s meltdown on the back nine of The Masters this year to snatch the Green Jacket away from the American.
The 28-year-old displayed nerves of steel, holing key putts on his way to glory. He will need that attribute in abundance when he takes to the course in the competition.
Willett’s form since his victory at Augusta has been poor, especially in the other three Major competitions, while he also put in an underwhelming display at the Olympics.
However, the Yorkshireman showed signs of returning to his best at the Italian Open where was narrowly beaten by Eduardo Molinari, finishing in second place on -21 for the tournament.
The Sheffield-born star has the ability and the character to thrive in the Ryder Cup, and at odds of 11/4 (favourite with Coral) to be the top rookie, it could be the man to back to drive Europe on to another triumph.
Pieters has been one of the most consistent players on the European tour this season, and finally notched his first title of the campaign at the Made In Denmark tournament.
As a result of his form, Clarke used his final wildcard selection on the 24-year-old ahead of more experienced players.
Although the Belgian failed to challenge for the Majors this term, he did put forward a great display at the Olympics, finishing just outside the medal places in fourth on nine under.
Pieters appears to be hitting his stride, but there is uncertainty on how he will hold up to the pressure of the tournament.
Clarke may use him sparingly considering his wildcard selection; although, at 9/2 to be the top rookie, Pieters could spring a surprise at Hazeltine.
At the age of just 22, Fitzpatrick is the youngest competitor in the tournament this year. However, he has shown maturity beyond his years in his brief career thus far.
He has built off his impressive debut win on the European Tour last year when he triumphed at the British Masters. The Englishman finished seventh in Augusta, with an even-par display, and notched his second title with a fine performance at the Nordea Masters.
Fitzpatrick, also from Sheffield, put in a disappointing display at The Open as he failed to make the cut for the final two days of the competition, while he also failed to make an impact at the PGA Championship.
However, the 22-year-old has found a good level of form since August, finishing in the top 10 at the Czech Masters, European Masters and the Paul Lawrie Match Play.
As a result of his recent improvement, Fitzpatrick has odds of 5/1 to be Europe’s top rookie in Minnesota and given his temperament he could be a prudent punt.
Cabrera-Bello comes into the tournament under the weight of expectations, with his Spanish predecessors Sergio Garcia, Jose Maria Olazabal and the late Seve Ballesteros having thrived under the pressure.
The 32-year-old has been solid this season, without adding another title to his collection, finishing second in the Qatar Masters and Dubai Desert Classic.
Encouragingly for Clarke he excelled in the WGC-Dell Match Play, reaching the last four of the competition, and went on to beat Rory McIlroy by a comfortable margin in the third-place playoff.
That sort of result will give him confidence for his clashes against the best the United States can offer next week, while he heads to Minnesota with strong performances at the Olympics and the Italian Open.
The Spaniard can be backed at 7/2 to be the top rookie in the three days, which could be a sensible bet to make due to his experience compared to the other first-time players in the team.