Darren Clarke wants to be a Ryder Cup strongman at Celtic Manor. But while Ulsterman is one of Colin Montgomerie’s three vice-captains, he still believes he can make it as a player with a big performance in this week’s US PGA.

His manager Chubby Chandler said: “Darren played so well at Whistling Straits the last time, he’s really excited.

“He was third going out in the last round and he was right in contention to around the 71st hole and the good thing going back is that his game is really solid right now.

“Darren is still thinking Ryder Cup and he’s thinking with a good week at the US PGA that we would have a look at his schedule.

“If he was to finish top-10 or top-15 in the PGA and then have two more good weeks, it might nearly qualify him automatically. That’s what Darren will be striving to do.”

Clarke is more than €500,000 behind Miguel Angel Jimenez in the Ryder Cup race for nine automatic Ryder Cup spots.

But Chandler reckons the Ulsterman is also realistic candidate for one of Colin Montgomerie’s three wildcards.

Chandler said: “If people are talking about Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples being picked for either side then there’s no reason why you can’t talk about Darren Clarke, especially with the make-up of the team.

“If the reasons for thinking he would be a good assistant will be because of Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood, surely the same applies if he were playing.”

Westwood has been sidelined for the next six weeks with a ruptured calf muscle and could be forced to sit out the Ryder Cup.

Chandler said: “It would be a blow if Lee missed the Ryder Cup. Lee has so much Ryder Cup experience and he would be a good partner to anybody and Monty looks on Lee as a huge cornerstone in his side.

“Lee would need to play either two weeks or a week before just to prove his fitness.

“You can’t go into a Ryder Cup without any competition in over six or seven weeks. It just gives a lot way to your rivals.”