Thursday 8 December 2016

I've never wanted to prove someone wrong so badly - Knox

Published 01/09/2016 | 02:30

European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The width of the Atlantic ocean separates Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke and angry Russell Knox as they get set for a return to action on Tour - and that's probably a good thing.

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Clarke tees it up in the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre today, while Knox is on duty at the Deutsche Bank championship in Boston, which starts tomorrow and ends on Monday, Labor Day in the USA.

Neither of them will be sending Christmas cards to each other following Clarke's decision to ignore the Scot's impressive - and vocal - claims for a wild card slot on the European Ryder Cup team to play the USA at Hazeltine at the end of the month.

Knox felt he deserved a pick on form and on his season's record.

His credentials are impressive: he is the World No 20, seventh in the FedEx Cup rankings and twice a winner on the PGA Tour this season.

Instead, Clarke opted for rookie Thomas Pieters to join Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer as his personal selections.

They are, respectively, 41, 46 and 50 in the world rankings, but Clarke made his call and Knox is out in the cold.

"A really difficult phone call for me to make," said Clarke.

Knox said: "When Darren called me, it was obvious within one second that it wasn't going to be good news. It was a very short phone call."

Now he will put all his effort into winning the FedEx Cup series.

"I've never wanted to prove someone wrong so badly in all my life," said Knox.

The bad news is that however well he plays in the next few weeks, it will not change anything.

Clarke was on the wrong end of a similar decision in 2008, a year when he won twice.

The second victory came just two weeks before the announcement of the team for Valhalla, but Europe's captain Nick Faldo ignored Clarke's claims for a pick.

Faldo had experienced the same disappointment when he was passed over by 1999 captain Mark James for Brookline.

It all comes down to one man's decision, and the skipper has to make the call.

Clarke will hope to avoid the fate of James and Faldo - both their teams lost to the USA.

Meanwhile, Paul Dunne and Michael Hoey join Clarke at Crans-sur-Sierre as they seek to retain their Tour cards for 2017.

Dunne, ranked 105, with earnings of €187,816, is a little too close to the 110 cut-off mark for comfort.

Hoey languishes in 179th spot with €53,626, and needs a win.

Omega European Masters, Live, Sky Sports 4, 10.30am

Irish Independent

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