US Open champion Rory McIlroy has chosen Graeme McDowell to partner him for Ireland at the World Cup in China later this year.
The Ulsterman had the option of choosing from either Darren Clarke, who recently upset the odds to claim victory at this year’s Open championships, former major winner Pedraig Harrington or 2010 US Open champion McDowell.
Free bet offers had suggested McIlroy would opt for McDowell as his partner for the tournament, although a wave of bets backing Clarke flooded in after his emotional win earlier this month.
McDowell is the highest ranked of the trio at world number 12, a factor which McIlroy said swayed his decision.
“G-Mac’s the next highest on the rankings, so it will be me and him again,” said McIlroy.
Clarke leapt up the world rankings after his spectacular win at Royal St George’s from a lowly 111th to 30th, but that wasn’t enough as McDowell was opted for at the expense of the 42-year-old for the tournament which gets underway in November.
McIlroy was vocal in his support of Clarke throughout the tournament despite his own personal troubles on the links course, and tweeted a picture of him, Clarke and McDowell drinking pints of Guinness to toast Clarke’s win.
“It was a bitter sweet open championship for me… Disappointed with my finish but delighted for the big man who won!! Roll on the USPGA!” he wrote on the social networking site after Clarke’s win.
Harrington meanwhile has suffered a heavy loss of form recently, and currently finds himself down in 64th in the latest standings.
Both McIlroy and McDowell competed together in a unified Irish team when the World Cup was last staged two years ago.
The pair were eventual runners up behind the Italian pairing of Edoardo and Francesco Molinari at the Mission Hills venue in China, but are amongst the favourites with those who place free bets this year.