Is it too soon to start handing the 2014 Ryder Cup captaincy to Darren Clarke? Maybe.
Despite the huge wave of support for the Clarke campaign, cleverly orchestrated before and after the Meltdown at Medinah, there may well be another four months of fun and games ahead.
Rory McIlroy - beaten by six shots by Tiger Woods on Turkey yesterday as he finished last in the Turkish Airlines World Golf Finals exhibition - appeared to be calling for a dual captaincy announcement when firmly coming out in favour of Paul McGinley for the matches at Gleneagles.
“If it was up to me I would like to see (Paul) McGinley as Ryder Cup captain in 2014 and then Clarkey in 2016 - I think that would work very well,” McIlroy said.
The last time there was a dual captaincy announcement was in March 2005 when Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo were named as captains for The K Club and Valhalla respectively.
There were rumours of a dual captaincy announcement in 2009 but in the end only the 2010 captain was named with Colin Montgomerie handed the armband for the matches at Celtic Manor.
Clarke and the European Tour have already shot down stories that he has already been offered the Gleneagles job though there are several precedents for giving a player the nod without going through the formality of a Tournament Players Committee meeting.
Tony Jacklin was reappointed on Concord while just last year, Jose Maria Olazabal was the unopposed candidate for the matches in Chicago.
“There was a general feeling from the whole membership that José needed to be the next captain,” Tournament Committee Chairman Thomas Bjorn said at the time.
“And with the approval of Richard (Hills) and George (O’Grady), I took time out after the Dubai World Championship to speak to all of the members of the committee and unanimously, they all pointed towards one man; and therefore, we felt it was right that we did it as soon as possible. We didn’t feel that we needed to sit in a committee meeting and discuss this, because it was the one man that everybody on this tour wanted to be captain.”
The vast majority of the UK national press appears to be pushing for Clarke, no doubt considering him a better story than McGinley.
Whatever about the Dubliner’s chances of getting the job, the push for Clarke may not go down well with the Continental powerbase, who have complained in the past of a “British European Tour” bias.
No that the Clarke camp are too worried about all that.
His manager, Chubby Chandler, gave BBC Northern Ireland’s Steve Watson the lowdown on thinking behind the 2014 candidacy push and the reason why he changed his mind about chasing the job in the US in 2016.
“I don’t think it’s quite as done a deal as one or two of the articles made it look,” Chandler said in Turkey. “But he has been approached by the European Tour to consider putting himself forward.”
So why the change of heart on 2016 and the move for 2014?
“We’ve had lots of chats about it. Darren as you know is a perfectionist so he would want it all dead right. But he was talking 2016 for a long time. But I think the first couple of days of being an away captain in the States burnt that….. I don’t think Ollie had that much fun the first two days.”
Or perhaps Clarke realised that his game has now slipped so far so quickly that he might not be guaranteed the captaincy in 2016? Either that or he has schemed a masterplan with McGinley to set up back to back captaincies for Irish golf.
Chandler appeared to go for the former option.
“I think if you get the chance to be Ryder Cup captain, it is such an honour that you have to have a go when you can,” he said. “You can’t just sort of think, I’ll wait for three years and then they’ll have me because three years is a long time.
“So I’m glad he’s put his hand up. I think he is going to get endorsed by a lot of the top players, which matters a lot. Knowing Darren he will do it all with lots of emotion, a different emotion than Chema did. Jose Maria is quite intense emotion, Darren is just pure emotion if you know what I mean.”
Getting to the nub of the matter, future earnings, Chandler added: “It’s something that will be a nice thing for him for his CV and his career and a real big adventure for him for 18 months. And then he will have a career at the end of it. He’s exempt for everything until 2016 so he’ll be Ryder Cup captain, hopefully, in 2014 and then has two years of a career on the PGA Tour, European Tour, Majors, everything, that he can go back to.”
Chandler added, “Paul McGinley has a decent chance, and possibly Paul Lawrie. I don’t think it’s a done deal but obviously he (Darren) has great credentials.”
Lee Westwood who beat Charl Schwartzel to take his place in the Turkis Airlines final against Justin Rose, was also asked to comment on speculation that Clarke has already been given the job.
“It’s a bit early for that as they don’t make the decision until January and Darren doesn’t like it that people are already giving it to him,” Westwood said. “But I’m sure he’d take it if he was offered it and I think he’d make a good captain.
“He’s got all the credentials; recently won a major championship, he’s been great in the Ryder Cup, played five of them, won countless tournaments, good public speaker, good motivator - so I’ve no reason to think he wouldn’t be a great captain if he got it.”
Tiger Woods, who lost to Rose in the other semi-final but hasn’t recently won a major championship, also backed Clarke’s credentials when asked by SkySports for his opinion.
“I think he would make a great captain,” Woods said. “Darren’s one of my best friends out here, he’s just a great guy.
“I think he’d make a great leader. I don’t know what the process is for you guys, how you select your captain - but if he is, he’d be a great one.”
As for the Turkish event, McIlroy admitted he lacked “motivation” after the Ryder Cup while banking €370,000 his week’s work.
The world No 1 lost all three of his matches and finished last in the eight-man exhibition event when he was thrashed by six shots by Tiger Woods - 64-70 - in the last group game.
According to reports:
The US PGA champion earned £187,000 in prize money in addition to his £125,000 appearance fee.
But after his third defeat of the week, McIlroy admitted he had struggled to raise his game after the Miracle of Medinan and a hectic summer.
And he looked more concern about his problems getting a Russian visa to accompany girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki to Moscow for the Kremlin Cup next week.
“I’m not that disappointed because I’ve got the afternoon off around the pool - I don’t mind,” he said. “I just came here because I have never played in Turkey and there’s a lot of good players here, and I thought it would be a fun week and it has been.
“I’ve treated this week as: ‘Its great to come here, nice weather, play a bit of golf, I get to spend some time with Caroline’. I viewed it as a week like that. I didn’t touch a club until the first day.
“I probably lacked a little bit of motivation. It is Ryder Cup blues. I have basically drawn a line after the Ryder Cup. It has been a great season and I am ready to be done. I have another week off next week and get myself up for the last push for the Race to Dubai.”
The long-awaited matchplay meeting between the top two players in the world was a one-sided anti-climax with McIlroy needing another miracle to qualify for the last four. The Northern Irishman found water from the first tee while Woods, who looked far from intimidated, shot a 64.
“I had resigned myself before we started to have this afternoon on the beach,” said the Northern Irishman.
“I would love to have some meaningful battles with him (Woods) coming down the stretch in tournaments.”