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Darren Clarke at The Open Championship (Getty Images)
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Europe

Clarke keeping his options open

European Ryder Cup Captain Darren Clarke is refusing to rule anyone out of making his 12-man team for the biennial clash against the United States in September.

The Northern Irishman, who will hope to lead Europe to a fourth consecutive Ryder Cup success, had another opportunity to meet with potential members of the team at The 145th Open Championship last week.

Clarke will have three captain’s picks following the conclusion of this season's Made in Denmark on August 28 and feels there is still time for players to force their way into his plans.

“Everybody’s still got a chance, there’s a long way to go yet,” said Clarke at Royal Troon last week.

“The US PGA Championship is another tournament that has a massive amount of points available, but there are other events as well between the US PGA and Made in Denmark.

“If a guy goes and wins back-to-back then they come into consideration. There’s still quite a way to go.”

Masters Champion Danny Willett is one of five rookies currently in contention to qualify automatically, two more than the number that made Paul McGinley’s winning team at Gleneagles in 2014.

However, Clarke is adamant that whoever qualifies will have earned the right to represent Europe.

“No matter who makes the European team, it’s going to be a strong team.

“We currently have five rookies in our top nine automatic qualifying places, but those guys are there because they deserve to be there, so fair play to them.”