Clarke gets Ryder Cup nod
DARREN CLARKE, the tearful hero of Europe’s 2006 Ryder Cup triumph, has vowed to help win back the trophy from the United States after being named one of Colin Montgomerie’s vice-captains.
Ulsterman Clarke was the surprise choice when skipper Montgomerie yesterday named his backroom team, which also includes Paul McGinley and Thomas Bjorn, for the tournament at Celtic Manor in October.
The 41-year-old, who finished runner-up in the Scottish Open two weeks ago, could yet qualify for the side as a player, but either way is thrilled to have the chance to take part in the iconic contest again.
“Monty and I spoke at length about that and he has told me he wants me there one way or another,” said Clarke.
“If I do well enough in the coming weeks to give him an extra headache – not that he hasn’t got one already – then we will cross that bridge then.
“But, as it stands, I’m not an automatic pick and I’m delighted to be part of Monty’s backroom staff.”
Clarke created one of the most memorable images in Ryder Cup history when he broke down after helping Europe beat the US four years ago at the K Club, just three weeks after the death of his wife, Heather.
Irishman McGinley, 43, was his team-mate that year, and also enjoyed success as part of the 2002 and 2004 teams.
Bjorn, 39, was part of winning teams in 1997 and 2002, and was an assistant to captain Bernhard Langer in 2004.
“The Ryder Cup is about passion, commitment and will to win – and all three men I have named today possess those qualities in abundance,” said Montgomerie.
“They are vastly experienced players who have the respect and admiration of everyone in golf. They are all committed to regaining the Ryder Cup, which is important for us and the European Tour.”
Montgomerie will name his 12-man team in six weeks, with the top nine ranked players qualifying automatically and the Scot picking the remaining three.
Nationality: Northern Ireland
Ryder Cups: 5
Record: Won 10, Lost 7, Halved 3
Nationality: Republic of Ireland
Ryder Cups: 3
Record: W2, L2, H5
Ryder Cups: 2
Record: W3, L2, H1