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Doors are open for Clarke

Darren Clarke might still have an important part to play in who becomes Europe's next Ryder Cup captain even though he is now expected to count himself out of the running in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

"As much as I would dearly love to be captain this may not be my time," the 44-year-old Northern Irishman said in South Africa on Friday.

The 2011 Open champion, keen to play in the match again, could well be in charge instead in America in three years time, but he is also a member of the 15-man European Tour's tournament committee and they are the ones about to decide who takes over from Jose Maria Olazabal.

Paul McGinley, like Clarke an assistant in the last two victories, still has his hat in the ring for the job, but in recent weeks the possibility of Colin Montgomerie being asked to repeat his 2010 win has arisen.

Clarke himself sparked speculation about that by saying that following Tom Watson's appointment to lead the Americans at the age of 65 a rethink was perhaps needed. It was less than two months ago that one newspaper reported that Clarke had "won the race", but he quickly denied he had been offered the post.

Since then a vast improvement in his form has led him to say he believes he could yet earn a sixth cap.

There is also the fact that winning The Open 18 months ago has opened doors for him all over the world again, particularly in America - and there is a history of Ryder Cup captains suffering a downturn in their playing fortunes.

"Whenever I was initially mentioned I wasn't playing very well," he said. "I played much better at the end of last year and have been thinking long and hard about it all over the Christmas break.

"As much as I would dearly love to be captain this may not be my time. I won one of the biggest prizes in golf by winning The Open and I am exempt for another three years (in the States).

"If I was given the opportunity to do the captaincy I'd effectively be throwing two of those years away. I'm still wrestling with it. It's a tough one for me, but to be honest with you I want to play golf."


From Belfast Telegraph