Clarke's Ryder race may be run
Darren Clarke, many people’s favourite to lead Europe at the next Ryder Cup, said yesterday: “As much as I would dearly love to be captain, this may not be my time.”
The 2011 British Open champion is not officially pulling out of the race yet, but it will be no surprise now if next Tuesday’s tournament committee meeting in Abu Dhabi comes down to a choice between Paul McGinley and Colin Montgomerie.
Clarke himself raised the possibility last month of Montgomerie being recalled to face golfing great Tom Watson, America’s surprise choice to be captain at Gleneagles next year, three years after he was in charge for the victory in Wales.
But committee chairman Thomas Bjorn said on Wednesday: “I don’t have a strong view against appointing somebody twice, but there are a lot of other people I think could do a very good job.”
McGinley would appear to fit into that category. He has twice been a winning Britain and Ireland captain at the Seve Trophy and in five Ryder Cups – three as a player and the last two as an assistant captain – Europe have always come out on top.
Moreover, world number one Rory McIlroy is among those who has come out and said he would like the 46-year-old Dubliner to be captain at Gleneagles next year and then Clarke in America in 2016.
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 return to the side in Scotland. He will be 46 by then.
There is also the fact that winning The Open 18 months ago has opened doors to 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.
World number six Louis Oosthuizen ended the second round with a real flourish to complete a bogey-free 64 and seize a one-stroke lead in the Volvo Golf Champions yesterday.
Britain’s Scott Jamieson, who also recorded a 64, was one behind on 11-under 133 with overnight leader Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand (68).
Six shots adrift in a share of fourth place on 139 was Ireland’s Shane Lowry (69).
Pádraig Harrington was two shots further back after second round 71 while Michael Hoey shot a 74 for a two-round total of 146.
(Irish in bold, British unless stated, par 72):
132 – Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 68 64
133 – Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 65 68,
Scott Jamieson 69 64
139 – Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind) 69 70, Paul Lawrie
69 70, Thomas Bjorn (Den) 69 70, Shane Lowry 70 69, Danny Willett 69 70, Julien Quesne (Fra)
140 – Francesco Molinari (Ita) 70 70, Ernie Els (Rsa) 68 72, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 73 67
141 – Jamie Donaldson 69 72, Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spa) 72 69, Pádraig Harrington 70 71
142 – Richie Ramsay 69 73, Retief Goosen (Rsa) 72 70, Branden Grace (Rsa) 75 67, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 72 70 143 Paul Casey 74 69, Darren Clarke 75 68
144 – Robert Rock 70 74, Matteo Manassero (Ita) 75 69 145 Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (Spa) 75 70
146 – Jose-Maria Olazabal (Spa) 74 72, Michael Hoey 72 74
147 – Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 75 72, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 76 71
148 – Jbe Kruger (Rsa) 75 73, Marcel Siem (Ger) 74 74, Darren Fichardt (Rsa) 78 70
150 – Colin Montgomerie 72 78
152 – Ricardo Santos (Por) 76 76