LONDON -- Darren Clarke believes Tom Watson's appointment as U.S. Ryder Cup captain has come as a "bolt from the blue" and really given the Europeans food for thought before they name their man.
It was widely seen as a straight choice between Clarke and Paul McGinley when the European Tour’s Tournament Committee meets in Abu Dhabi next month, but last year's British Open champion is now not so sure -- and that may bring 2010 Captain Colin Montgomerie back into the equation.
"I think it could well affect who is appointed," said Clarke. "A lot of people, myself included, were surprised when Tom Watson was appointed.
"It's a big statement and brilliant for the event," he added. "There are few more iconic figures in golf, he's adored in Scotland (the 2014 match is at Gleneagles) and it sends out a statement that they are very serious about winning the trophy back.
"Maybe we have to have a look and consider other people as well. Whoever it is standing on that stage opposite Tom Watson needs a huge presence," he concluded. "We seriously need the right man for the job. We do have an (unwritten) rule where we don't ask anybody to do it again, but we might have to look at that."
Those words might well reduce the odds on Montgomerie being asked to do the job again in his home country.
Initially earmarked for Gleneagles, Montgomerie, the eight-time European No. 1, agreed to take on the position two years ago at Celtic Manor in Wales and led Europe to a nail-biting one-point victory.
Clarke said it would be an honor if he is chosen to take the rains, but he also thinks he could have one more playing appearance in him. The last of his five appearances came at the K Club in Ireland in 2006 – amazingly, he won all three of his matches just six weeks after his first wife Heather lost her battle with breast cancer.
"If they asked me to do it, it would be a difficult decision to take," he said. "I'm still only 44 and it's not that long ago that I won The Open."
It was in July of 2011, of course, that Clarke, 111th in the world at the time, triumphed at Sandwich. He has since dropped back to 145th in the rankings, but a top-10 finish in the Australian PGA Championship has raised his optimism for 2013 and beyond.