Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke in favour of European Tour's decision to drop WGC-Bridgestone Invitational from 2016 schedule

The event has been brought forward to June, meaning there are no ranking points at a tournament contested by the leading European players

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The Independent Online

The European Ryder Cup captain, Darren Clarke, has backed the European Tour’s decision to drop the prestigious WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, won by Shane Lowry last week, from next year’s European schedule.

The WGC event has been brought forward to June to accommodate the Olympic tournament in August, forcing a clash with the French Open in its centenary year. The move means there are no Ryder ranking points at a tournament contested by the leading European players.

“It’s a dilemma,” said Clarke. “If they’re close to qualifying on the points list it’s a tough decision for the guys to make, especially for Shane. He won his first World Golf Championship at Firestone, and he may have a decision to make.”

Clarke said if asked he would have no hesitation in advising his players to contest the French. “I think they [the European Tour] have done the right thing by standing beside one of their mainstays. The French Open is steeped in history, a wonderful venue that we have the 2018 Ryder Cup around. They’ve showed loyalty to the French Open and rightly so.”

The European points system for next year’s Ryder Cup at Hazeltine begins next month at the Czech Open. Clarke highlighted Europe’s emerging players like Lowry, Danny Willett and Bernd Wiesberger as rising talent, while acknowledging the difficulty of holding the Americans on home soil. “There’s a new breed of American player coming through, highlighted by Jordan Spieth, obviously. Davis [Love] is going to have a very strong, possibly quite a new look on the team. We’re under no illusions how hard it’s going to be.”

There is always Rory McIlroy, whose return here excites his Ryder Cup captain. “He’s back, he may not be competitively sharp for obvious reasons, but he’s world No 1. He’s done many amazing things, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him contending this week.”