What do you get the man who has everything? In Darren Clarke’s case, the Ryder Cup captaincy will do nicely, thank you. Yes, he has to be asked, but Clarke has made it clear that he wants to be asked. How soon? Pretty damn soon if his game doesn’t pick up.
Now that he’s won the Open, Clarke says he’s finding it hard to get motivated. That doesn’t mean he’s going to give up. He’s a perfectionist, after all. But Plan B is being put in to action now and if the 43-year old doesn’t qualify for Jose Maria Olazabal’s team next year, he’ll be in Chicago in some capacity and making moves for the top job
He’s been tipped as a man who’d be an excellent as skipper on US spoil in 2016 - after all, he’s got that larger than life, hard-drinking, cigar-chomping, broth of a boy image that many Americans lap up. But is he really a non-runner for the job at Gleneagles just because he said the Centenary Course was one step above a cabbage patch? I think not. There’s too much at stake and if there are any anti-Paul McGinley factions out there, they’ll find a willing poster boy in the 2011 Champion Golfer.
To re-cap: Speaking about the Centenary Course during the 2007 Johnnie Walker Championship, Clarke said:
“It’s unbelievable they chose to stage the 2014 Ryder Cup on this course. There are unbelievable courses in Scotland, not least of which are the two others at Gleneagles, the King’s and Queen’s. So it’s beyond my comprehension they’ve chosen to have the Ryder Cup on this course.
“I’m going to be ripped for saying what I’ve said. But I just can’t see it as a Ryder Cup venue, Ryder Cup golf course, and it’s a shame.”
Surely it would be a bit hypocritical to play in a tournament there, let alone pitch for the captaincy on the horrible course design. Not in the slightest.
“Very good question,” Clarke told a reporter, when asked if he’d chase Ryder Cup points at Gleneagles next year. “If I had to go back I definitely would. The Ryder Cup is much more important than my personal opinion.”
Is he referring to qualifying for the Ryder Cup or the competition itself?
Either way, Jim Hacker’s civil servants couldn’t have put it any better: So what if I said the course was crap, this is the biggest and best money making event in the world. It’s all about tradition and, as Woosie reminded us on those never ending TV commercials, the shirts!
But why would Clarke want to do the Ryder Cup captaincy now when there are so many other majors to be won? There’s the €2m plus he’d make from endorsements for starters. Also, it seems Darren himself admits that he may finally be sliding inexorably into irrelevance!
“I’ve done what I’ve always wanted to do, got to the top of the mountain. What else is there to do?”
What about the majors Darren?
“Yes, they (major championships) are all very important, but to me The Open is the oldest, the biggest, the best there is. If you ask anyone who achieves their lifetime goal how do you keep going and going, I have no idea. I’ve won World Golf Championship events, I’ve won The Open, I’ve won tournaments all around the world.”
Oh, okay. So what about the Ryder Cup captaincy in Gleneagles, Darren? After all, the Ryder Cup is so much bigger than any individual’s personal opinion about a golf course.
And as the man who has everything, it’s all that’s left for him to do (apart from win another major or two). Right?
“At some stage in the future I might be asked to be Ryder Cup captain,” Clarke pointed out ahead of the Alfred Dunhill Links on Wednesday. “What more could I do?”