Clarke open to all options on Ryder Cup question

Darren Clarke pictured with radio presenter Alan Simpson earlier this week. Darren Clarke would “dearly love” to be Ryder Cup captain in Gleneagles but he doesn’t rule out the possibility of two Irish captains in a row.

The 44-year old, back in Northern Ireland after two encouraging performances in Thailand and Australia, is locked in a straight fight with Paul McGinley for the 2014 job at Gleneagles.

But like the old saying about waiting for buses, we could face a situation where after waiting forever for an Irishman to get the captaincy even once, Ireland gets the job twice in a row. Naive? Perhaps.

Depending on how you view them, it’s an unfair fight betweem Clarke and McGinley for Gleneagles. As far as captaincy experience goes, McGinley is by far the best qualified given that he’s a proven winning captain with back-to-back victories in the Vivendi Seve Trophy. Not only that, the majority of the winning 2012 side is calling for to get the job.

Clarke, on the other hand, is hugely popular with the general public and also wins hands down on his golfing CV, which begs the question: What kind of captain do you choose to take on an eight-time major winner like Tom Watson on Scottish soil?

Asked about Watson’s appointment, Clarke told BBC Radio Ulster presenter Alan Simpson: “He’s a legend of the game and an incredible gentlemen and I don’t think the Americans could have picked a better captain than Tom.

“The repect that he will hold amongst his players, not just them but the whole of the European team, in Scotland, everything about him. He is just an utter gentleman.

“So I think whoever captains the European team, it will certainly be a big ask to come up against somebody with as big a personality as Tom Watson.”

Asked how he like to be captain at Hazeltine in 2016, Clarke said: “Yeah, well I’d like to be captain as well in Gleneagles. We will wait and see what the committee decides. It is their decision. At some stage in the future, if I do get offered the Ryder Cup captaincy, it will be a huge honour.”

Speaking to sports reporter Steve Watson on BBC television, also this week, Clarke agreed that back-to-back Irish captains was not out of the question following a suggestion by Colin Montgomerie that the European Tour might opt for another dual announcement for the 2014 and 2016 matches, just as it did with Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo in 2005.

“I don’t see why there wouldn’t be [two Irish captains in a row],” Clarke said. “As I’ve said all along, the committee deciding who the captain is going to be are picking the best man for the job. It just so happens this time that there are two of us in for it this time and possibly there will be two of us in for it the next time as well.”

Two next time as well? Could Clarke be talking about Pádraig Harrington here?

“Hopefully it will be decided on merit and if that’s the case then hopefully there is no reason why there can’t be a couple [of Irish captains] in a row. I’ve played my part in Ryder Cup a few times, both playing and from outside it as a vice-captain.”

Might he be willing to wait two years and try to play again instead? He certainly didn’t appear to rule that out.

“I’d dearly love to be captain but those past couple of weeks when I’ve played better again has given me a little bit of an idea about wanting to play in another one. My form prior to that would suggest that I would get anywhere near, but golf is very fickle.

“It gave me the biggest prize in world golf a year and a half ago and my form has been dreadful since. But the game is still inside me there somewhere and I just want to keep on playing. But it will be up to the committee and what they decide and whatever they decide, I am sure they will make the right decision.”