Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Darren Clarke rules himself out as next Ryder Cup captain

Ryder Cup Europe Team Captain Colin Montgomerie (L) chats with Vice Captain Darren Clarke. Clarke has said he does not want to be captain in Chicago in two years time
European Captain Colin Montgomerie sits by the side of the 17th green before Graeme McDowell wins during the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, Newport
Europe's Ian Poulter is mobbed by fans as he makes his way off the 17th green after victory in the fourballs during the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, Newport

Darren Clarke does not want to be Ryder Cup captain in Chicago in two years time.

The Ulsterman, a vice-captain to Colin Montgomerie at Celtic Manor, says he still has unfinished business as a player.

“”I want to try and play another one if I can,” Clarke said yesterday.

Jose Maria Olazabal is the odds-on favourite to be given the job for Medinah — and he could be named captain as early as this week.

The main obstacle is his health as he suffers from rheumatoid arthritis.

“Jose Maria has been battling illness but if he can come back to proper form then all of Europe and all of this team would welcome him as captain in two years' time,” Clarke added.

The Tournament Players Committee will discuss who will lead the defence of the Ryder Cup in Chicago at a meeting in Portugal on Tuesday – and that such is the support for the Spaniard that the position will be his to accept or decline.

The path seems set for a quick announcement as Olazabal yesterday declared: “I would love the role.”

But before his backers — who include Montgomerie — become too excited it is understood he might not be ready to make a commitment yet because of his ongoing fight with rheumatoid arthritis. If this is the case, then the committee will give him to the start of next year to decide.

Olazabal found himself the target for a barrage of persuasion at the celebration party on Monday night, held at Celtic Manor a few hours after Europe had regained the trophy in a excruciatingly tense finale.

“It was mentioned by the players and by Monty, but there is just one issue and that is my health,” said Olazabal.

“I would love to do it, but you have to fulfil certain things. For instance I think you need to be close to the players and play with them during the qualifying process and that's why it is the only question mark.”

Even though Olazabal has played only one competitive event in the last year, Montgomerie is of the opinion that the affirmation should come sooner rather than later.

He co-opted Olazabal into the team-room as his fifth vice-captain after the first day of the extended match.

“Jose Maria did brilliantly as one of my assistants and I think now is his time,” said the Scot yesterday.

“He is 45 and it seems to be a young man's game. He will do as good if not a better job than I did.”

That appeared to be the unanimous consensus as the players left the Gwent resort.

“He is the choice of all the players,” said Padraig Harrington.

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