OPEN winner Darren Clarke has vowed to place enjoyment at the centre of his strategy for retaining the Ryder Cup after the Northern Irishman was yesterday confirmed as Europe’s captain.
Clarke also plans to seek advice from previous skippers before next year’s contest at Hazeltine in the United States, despite a chequered history with his predecessor Paul McGinley.
McGinley was part of the fiveman selection committee that unanimously selected the 46-yearold ahead of the two other leading contenders, Dane Thomas Bjorn and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Clarke is known for his laid-back and light-hearted approach, and the man who lifted the trophy four times as a player intends to bring that sense of fun to his attempts to defend it in 19 months’ time.
“I will try to pick up as much information as I can from all the previous captains – I think it would be very remiss of me if I didn’t do that – to try and pick out the bits that they thought worked best,” Clarke said.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about me but the team, and to try to make sure the team has an enjoyable week, which is quite difficult in a stressful atmosphere. “If they’re relaxed and enjoying themselves that always helps a little bit more. Certainly with the teams that I’ve been involved in, both playing and vice-captain, that has been a huge factor so maybe if I can bring a little bit of that to it that would be great.”
Clarke, who entered Ryder Cup folklore by helping Europe defend their crown in 2006, just weeks after his wife’s passing, called his appointment “a huge honour and a huge privilege”.
He indicated he does not anticipate changes to the current policy of both captains being afforded three discretionary picks, and looks likely to be opposed by his friend Davis Love, who is expected to be named US skipper.
■ Born 14/8/68 Dungannon, N Ireland
■ European/PGA Tour wins: 14/3
■ Ryder Cup appearances: 1997*, 1999, 2002*, 2004*, 2006*. * indicates win
■ Ryder Cup record: 11.5 points from 20 matches; won-lost-halved: 10-7-3
■ Vice-captain in 2010