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Clarke: Europe can handle cup jibes

Published 26/05/2015

Darren Clarke is seeking a first Irish Open title at Royal County Down
Darren Clarke is seeking a first Irish Open title at Royal County Down

Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke is confident his players will be able to handle the partisan atmosphere when he leads Europe's defence of the trophy against a United States team which will be "baying for blood".

The biennial contest has been played in an excellent spirit since 2002 after previously being marred by a number of unsavoury incidents, most notably 1991's 'War on the Shore' at Kiawah Island and the 'Battle of Brookline' in 1999.

And Clarke expects the positivity to continue at Hazeltine next year, despite two of his prospective team - Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter - recently being heckled during the Players Championship at Sawgrass.

Garcia said he suffered abuse " three or four times on every hole since the 10th" in the final round before losing out in a play-off with Rickie Fowler and Kevin Kisner, while Poulter was heckled on the 17th green.

But speaking after announcing there would be no changes to the Ryder Cup qualifying system, Clarke said: "I t's always part and parcel.

"Sergio, bless him, he's great, but Sergio just fires people up. That's what he does. You know, it's part of the modern game. Poults gets a bit of it as well (but) these guys are professionals, they are thick-skinned and it's part and parcel.

"If the Americans come to Europe, they get 'Ole! Ole! Ole!' all the time and we go over there, it's all 'USA, USA, USA'. That's part of the Ryder Cup.

"Home advantage is huge and it's part and parcel of the Ryder Cup. But I think the likes of Sergio or Poults have been on the tour too long to let something like that affect them."

Clarke had hinted in March that he was more likely to reduce his wild cards from three to two rather than increase them, but has decided to keep the same format used to determine the team for Gleneagles in 2014.

That means nine players will qualify automatically, with the first four coming from the European points list - based on points gained in European Tour events - and five from the world points list - based on world ranking points gained globally - with Clarke then selecting three wild cards.

"I gave it a lot of thought," Clarke said during a press conference ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open on Tuesday. "I looked at a lot of stats and comparisons from what teams would have been had the system been slightly different in past years.

"But my overall feeling was that with the team Paul (McGinley) assembled at Gleneagles and how successful they were, it would have been very foolish to make any changes.

"After looking at it in depth, it became apparent that sticking with this system will give us the best chance of having the strongest possible team.

CORK, IRELAND - JUNE 22: Mikko Ilonen of Finland celebrates with the winners trophy after the final round of the Irish Open at the Fota Island Resort on June 22, 2014 in Cork, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
CORK, IRELAND - JUNE 22: Mikko Ilonen of Finland celebrates with the winners trophy after the final round of the Irish Open at the Fota Island Resort on June 22, 2014 in Cork, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
MAYNOOTH, IRELAND - JUNE 30: Paul Casey of England celebrates his eagle putt on the 18th green during the final round of the Irish Open at Carton House Golf Club on June 30, 2013 in Maynooth, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
PORTRUSH, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 01: Jamie Donaldson of Wales hugs his caddie Craig Connelly of Scotland after he had holed a birdie putt at the 18th hole to secure his first European Tour win during the final round of the 2012 Irish Open held on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club on July 1, 2012 in Portrush, Northern Ireland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
KILLARNEY, IRELAND - JULY 31: Simon Dyson of England kisses the trophy after winning the Discover Ireland Irish Open held at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club on July 31, 2011 in Killarney, Ireland. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
KILLARNEY, IRELAND - AUGUST 01: Ross Fisher of England poses with the trophy and his wife Jo and daughter Eve after victory during the final round of the 3 Irish Open at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club on August 1, 2010 in Killarney, Ireland. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
BALTRAY, IRELAND - MAY 17: Shane Lowry of Ireland celebrates after winning on the third play-off hole during the final round of The 3 Irish Open at County Louth Golf Club on May 17, 2009 in Baltray, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
LIMERICK, IRELAND - MAY 18: Richard Finch of England celebrates the final round of the Irish Open at Adare Manor on May 18, 2008 in Limerick, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
LIMERICK, IRELAND - MAY 20: Padraig Harrington of Ireland with son Patrick and wife Caroline on the 18th green after the final round of the Irish Open on May 20, 2007 at the Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort in Limerick, Ireland (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
KILDARE, IRELAND - MAY 22: Thomas Bjorn of Denmark celebrates on the 18th green after winning the Nissan Irish Open on The Montgomerie Course at Carton House Golf Club on May 22, 2006 in Kildare, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
MAYNOOTH, IRELAND - MAY 22: Stephen Dodd of Wales tees off on the 16th hole during the final round of the Nissan Irish Open on The Montgomerie Course at Carton House Golf Club on May 22, 2005 in Maynooth, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
BALTRAY, IRELAND - JULY 25: Brett Rumford of Australia celebrates on the 18th green after winning the Nissan Irish Open at County Louth Golf Club on July 25, 2004 in Baltray, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - JULY 27: Michael Campbell of New Zealand celebrates his play-off victory over Thomas Bjorn and Peter Hedblom at the Nissan Irish Open on July 27, 2003 at Portmarnock Golf Club in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
CORK, IRELAND - JUNE 30: Soren Hansen of Denmark and Padraic Liston of Murphys enjoy a couple of pints after the final round of the Murphy's Irish Open played at Fota Island Golf Club, Cork, on June 30, 2002. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
1 Jul 2001: Colin Montgomerie of Scotland on the 1st hole during his final round at the Murphys Irish Open at Fota Island Golf Club, Cork, Ireland. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Munday/ALLSPORT
1 Jul 2000: Patrik Sjoland of Sweden hits a birdie during the Final Round of the Murphy's Irish Open at Ballybunion Golf Club, Ireland. Mandatory Credit: Michael Cooper /Allsport
4 Jul 1999: Sergio Garcia of Spain celebrates on the 12th hole after holing a birdie during the 1999 Murphy's Irish Open played in Dublin, Ireland. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Redington /Allsport
5 Jul 1998: David Carter of England celebrates after the play-off during the Murphy's Irish Open at Druids Glen Golf Club in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. Carter won the event. \ Mandatory Credit: Andrew Redington/Allsport
DUBLIN - JULY 5: Colin Montgomerie Scotland in action during the 1997 Murphy's Irish Open held on July 5, 1997 at the Druids Glen GC in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
WICKLOW,IRELAND- JULY 3: Colin Montgomerie of Scotland walks on water as he approaches the 17th green during the Pro-Am in the Murph's Irish Open at the Druid's Glen Golf Clun on July 3, 1996 in North County Wicklow, Ireland. ( Photo by: David Cannon/Getty Images)
30 JUN 1995: Sam Torrance shows his pleasure after playing his second shot to the 18th close to the hole on his first day of the Irish Open at Mount Juliet. Mandatory Credit: Steve Munday/ALLSPORT
3 JUL 1994: BERNHARD LANGER OF GERMANY WITH A SHOT DURING THE 1994 IRISH OPEN GOLF TOURNAMENT, WHICH LANGER WON, AT THE MOUNT JULIET GOLF COURSE IN KILKENNY, IRELAND. Mandatory Credit: Steve Munday/ALLSPORT
KILKENNY, IRELAND - JULY 04: Nick Faldo of England with the trophy after his win in the 1993 Carrols Irish Open at Mount Juliet on July 4, 1993 in Kilkenny, Ireland. Faldo also came out ion top in the '91 & '92 Irish Open tournament. (Photo by Stephen Munday/Getty Images)
Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain triumphed at the Portmuck Irish Open in 1990. (Photo by Phil Sheldon/Popperfoto/Getty Images)
British golfer Ian Woosnam won the Irish Open in 1989. (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)
British golfer Ian Woosnam won the Irish Open in 1988. (Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 1987: Bernhard Langer of Germany plays in the 1987 US Open golf tournament from June 18-21, 1987 held at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, California. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros competing in the Irish Open at the Royal Dublin Golf Club, Dublin, Ireland, 1986. Ballesteros won the tournament. (Photo by Simon Bruty/Getty Images)
Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros receiving the trophy after winning the Irish Open at the Royal Dublin Golf Club, Dublin, Ireland, 1985. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

"I do want to make my own mark on the captaincy and I will in a few different ways. But I want to be able to be in the position to select the strongest possible team because we are going to need it whenever we get there, because they are going to be strong.

"They are going to be baying for blood and trying to win it back, and rightly so, but that's what's going to make it such an exciting event."

The last counting event has yet to be determined but is traditionally held at the end of August, with the 2016 Ryder Cup itself taking place from September 30 to October 2.

Clarke is seeking to win the Irish Open for the first time at the 24th attempt, with a final round of 66 in the BMW PGA Championship suggesting he could record his first top-10 finish on the European Tour since winning the Open Championship in 2011.

And world number one Rory McIlroy will look to bounce back from his missed cut at Wentworth by avoiding a similar early exit from his home event for the third straight year.

McIlroy is in for a busy week with his foundation hosting the event, but 2007 winner Padraig Harrington said: "I don't think it will be a problem for him. I think he's got a good enough game that he can win against whatever difficulties are set up for him in that sense.

"I think he's good enough in his mindset that he's quite happy to go out there and play, without having the ideal preparation. I for one would not be discounting him."

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