Biting Back: The Ryder Cup could have huge implications
The Ryder Cup is set to dominate the sporting agenda – and the outcome could have huge implications for one of Ulster's most popular figures.
Darren Clarke should be Europe's Ryder Cup captain at Hazeltine in 2016.
But ironically a victory for Europe over America at Gleneagles could damage the big man's chances of becoming the first Ulsterman to take the coveted reins.
That's down to the fact that three-time major winner Padraig Harrington is one of Europe's vice-captains at Gleneagles – and if the Dubliner is viewed as making an important contribution to the home side's expected victory, he could push Clarke aside in the race for the top job two years from now.
Harrington will make a great Ryder Cup captain some day – but he has to be behind Clarke in the queue.
Clarke, who does not have a direct role with the team this time around, is synonymous with European Ryder Cup success and his 2011 Open Championship victory at Sandwich was the icing on the cake of his application for captaincy.
It has been rumoured Clarke has already been pencilled in for the role in the US in 2016, with some suggesting his popularity on the other side of the pond will be a huge asset to a European team in what has, in the past, been a hostile Ryder Cup environment.
European golf is fortunate to have two excellent candidates like Clarke and Harrington in the running.
But the Ulsterman has to be next in the hotseat.