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Ryder Cup: A closer look at Team Europe

In just one month's time, the 2016 Ryder Cup will take place at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn.

While the top-8 qualifiers for Ryder Cup USA were finalized on Sunday, the European team's 12-player roster was completed on Tuesday morning when Captain Darren Clarke announced his three wildcard picks, giving the nod to two veterans in Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, while also adding rookie Thomas Pieters.

With the addition of Pieters, the Europeans will feature a team that includes six rookies. By contrast, Brooks Koepka is the only player of the top 8 American qualifiers with no previous Ryder Cup experience.

RELATED: Meet the European Ryder Cup team | Clarke adds Kaymer, Pieters and Westwood

U.S. Captain Davis Love III will make three wildcard picks on Sept. 12, while adding his fourth and final wildcard on Sept. 25 -- the evening before the team travels to Hazeltine.

Since we know the members of the European team -- looking for its fourth consecutive victory and seventh in the last eight tries -- here's a closer look at what Love's squad will be up against.

Rafa Cabrera Bello
Age:
32
OWGR: 27
Ryder Cup appearances: Debut
Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0
PGA Tour victories: 0
European Tour victories: 2
Major championship victories: 0

Cabrera Bello has had a steady rise through the ranks over the last couple of years. While we won't know who the Spaniard is playing with until Ryder Cup week, a natural fit may be countryman Sergio Garcia. Spanish Ryder Cuppers playing together have a lot of success in the matches from Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal to Olazabal and Garcia. Maybe Cabrera Bello and Garcia are next. In 17 starts on the European Tour this season (through August), Cabrera Bello hasn't won, but does have five top-5 finishes. He hasn't missed a single cut and has been incredibly consistent. 

Matthew Fitzpatrick
Age:
22 when the matches begin
OWGR: 48
Ryder Cup appearances: Debut
Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0
PGA Tour victories: 0
European Tour victories: 2
Major championship victories:

What a few years it has been for the young Englishman. Fitzpatrick won the 2013 U.S. Amateur. After spending just a few months at Northwestern University in Chicago, Fitzpatrick dropped out midway through his freshman year to pursue "full-time amateur golf" -- a move that many questioned at the time. Six months later, after playing in the U.S. Open based on his Amateur exemption, Fitzpatrick turned professional. It has proved to be a wise decision. Along with a T7 at the 2016 Masters -- his first top-10 in a major -- the highlight of the season for Fitzpatrick was picking up his second European Tour win when he was victorious back in June at the Nordea Masters. His amateur record is strong and Fitzpatrick was also on the 2013 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team. Fitzpatrick was one of the few bright spots on that team that lost to the U.S., 17-9. Fitzpatrick was 3-1 in his matches.

Sergio Garcia
Age:
36
OWGR: 12
Ryder Cup appearances: 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014
Ryder Cup record: 18-9-5
PGA Tour victories: 9
European Tour victories: 11
Major championship victories: 0

In a team lacking experience, Garcia should prove to be a huge asset to Captain Darren Clarke at Hazeltine. Through seven Ryder Cups as a player, Garcia has been an invaluable team member, compiling twice as many victories as he has losses. And the best thing about Garcia when it comes to the Ryder Cup (aside from dropping almost every putt he looks at)? He pairs well with anyone. Garcia has been a thorn in the side of many American teams and that trend could continue at Hazeltine. Given his energy and colorful personality, he's the one player on this European team that no American player wants to lose to. OK -- you don't want to lose to anyone... but you especially don't want to lose to Garcia. If he's paired with one of the European rookies and they play well, you're going to see some nervous players morph into wrecking balls of confidence quickly.

Martin Kaymer (Captain's Pick)
Age:
31
OWGR: 50
Ryder Cup appearances: 2010, 2012, 2014
Ryder Cup record: 4-3-3
PGA Tour victories: 3
European Tour victories: 11
Major championship victories: PGA Championship (2010); U.S. Open (2014)

Best known for his Ryder Cup-clinching putt when the Europeans completed a history-tying come-from-behind victory at Medinah in 2012, Kaymer hasn't won since a remarkable 2014 season in which he took home the Players Championship and the U.S. Open. That said, he's been close on the European Tour this season with six top-10 finishes in 18 starts, including two in his last three starts, which certainly helped his cause in the eyes of Captain Clarke. Kaymer was in a bit of a slump leading up to the 2012 matches, but was rejuvenated as a top player in the world after his outstanding performance. Will that happen again four years later?

Rory McIlroy
Age:
27
OWGR: 5
Ryder Cup appearances: 2010, 2012, 2014
Ryder Cup record: 6-4-4
PGA Tour victories: 11
European Tour victories: 13
Major championship victories: U.S. Open (2011); Open Championship (2014); PGA Championship (2012, 2014)

The fifth-ranked player in the world hasn't won on the PGA Tour since May of 2015 at the Wells Fargo Championship. He did, however, win the Irish Open in May of this year on the European Tour. The putter has been the achilles heel for McIlroy over the last couple of seasons. He has tinkered with different putters and different ways in which to grip the putter. Nothing seems to be sticking, however. With such a young, inexperienced European Ryder Cup team, it seems reasonable to think McIlroy will need to slip out of his funk if the team is to be victorious. There's no confidence builder in the world quite like what comes with watching putts drop at the Ryder Cup. If McIlroy starts seeing them drop early, he's going to pose a big problem for the Americans.

Thomas Pieters (Captain's Pick)
Age:
24
OWGR: 41
Ryder Cup appearances: Debut
Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0
PGA Tour victories: 0
European Tour victories: 3
Major championship victories: 0

You want to talk about getting hot at the right time? Look no further than Pieters' last three starts. After finishing fourth at the Olympics and just missing out on the podium, the Belgian made his case for a Captain's pick with a runner-up finish in the Czech Masters before following that up with a victory just last week at the Made in Denmark. He pretty much dared Clarke not to pick him with his current form. This is Pieters' reward for shining at the right time... Clarke, of course, is rolling the dice and hoping Pieters will keep that shine when we get to Hazeltine.

Justin Rose
Age:
36
OWGR: 10
Ryder Cup appearances: 2008, 2012, 2014
Ryder Cup record: 9-3-2
PGA Tour victories: 7
European Tour victories: 9
Major championship victories: U.S. Open (2013) 

It's amazing what one tournament can do to change the complexion of an otherwise so-so season. Especially when that particular tournament is one that was played for the first time in 112 years. Though the Olympics had no bearing on collecting Ryder Cup points, it most certainly proved to be a shot in the arm for Rose, the eventual gold medalist. In the Ryder Cup, Rose has established himself as a European player that Americans do not want to face with his impressive 9-3-2 record. Shoot, he was so hot in his singles match against Phil Mickelson in 2012 that all Lefty himself could do was shake his head, laugh, clap and give Rose a thumbs up. 

Henrik Stenson
Age:
40
OWGR: 4
Ryder Cup appearances: 2006, 2008, 2014
Ryder Cup record: 5-4-2
PGA Tour victories: 5
European Tour victories: 11
Major championship victories: Open Championship (2016)

The highest-ranked European in the game today, Stenson is enjoying a career year. After winning the BMW International Open in June on the European Tour, the Swede followed it up with his first major championship -- the Open at Royal Troon -- outplaying Phil Mickelson in what was arguably the greatest major championship duel in history. Stenson also challenged for the gold in Rio, eventually taking the silver medal. With a nickname like, "The Ice Man," -- well, that's probably not someone you want to face in a match-play situation. 

Andy Sullivan
Age:
29
OWGR: 42
Ryder Cup appearances: Debut
Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0
PGA Tour victories: 0
European Tour victories: 3
Major championship victories: 0

It's been a solid season for Sullivan in Europe after a breakout 2015 campaign in which he won three times and was a runner up in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. After having not missed a cut since May, Sullivan has missed the cut in each of his last two starts and could be limping into the Ryder Cup if that trend continues. 

Lee Westwood (Captain's Pick)
Age:
43
OWGR: 46
Ryder Cup appearances: 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014
Ryder Cup record: 20-15-6
PGA Tour victories: 2
European Tour victories: 23
Major championship victories: 0

Was there ever a doubt that Westwood was going to get one of Clarke's Captain's Picks? Aside from being great friends, Westwood has played in every Ryder Cup since 1997. This will be his 10th consecutive appearance -- one shy of Nick Faldo's European record of 11. If it's veteran leadership Clarke was looking for in his picks, he couldn't have done better than Westwood. Most of Westwood's time has been spent on the European Tour this season, with his best finish coming at the Masters -- a T2. His abundance of Ryder Cup experience will go a long way toward settling the nerves of the rookies.

Danny Willett
Age:
28
OWGR: 11
Ryder Cup appearances: Debut
Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0
PGA Tour victories: 1
European Tour victories: 5
Major championship victories: Masters (2016)

The 2016 Masters champion will be well-rested by the time he gets to make his Ryder Cup debut. Willett's PGA Tour season is over, having opted out of the first two Playoffs events. Whether Willett plays in Europe before the Ryder Cup isn't yet known. As everyone knows, the Ryder Cup is the ultimate putting contest, which can also be said for the Masters. While Willett was something of a surprise winner at Augusta National, he proved himself a deserving champion with his play down the stretch. That whole experience will serve him well at Hazeltine.

Chris Wood
Age: 28
OWGR: 28
Ryder Cup appearances: Debut
Ryder Cup record: 0-0-0
PGA Tour victories: 0
European Tour victories: 3
Major championship victories: 0

For a little while there, it looked as though Wood's chances of going to Hazeltine were up in the air. He missed most of the month of July due to a neck injury, but recently admitted to Matt Adams on his "Fairways of Life," radio show, "It's all behind me now, I'm fit," which surely had to be a relief for Captain Clarke. Prior to the injury, Wood had four top-10 finishes this season, highlighted by a win at the BMW PGA Championship. While he insists he's healthy now, surely all of team Europe will feel a lot better when they see him roaming the fairways pain-free at Hazeltine.