Not so fast, says Clarke to Ryder Cup supporters

Jose Maria Olazabal and Darren Clarke
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Darren Clarke's time to take over the Ryder Cup reins seems to be coming. The question, it appears, is when.

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 | 2:02 p.m.

Whoa up there, Ryder Cup fans. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

That was the message from Darren Clarke on Twitter today after reports began circulating that he had been offered the job as European captain for the 2014 Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, Scotland.

"To clarify..I have not been offered the Ryder Cup captaincy," Clarke tweeted. "It's not decided by the committee until January. Would be a huge honour if asked."

The committee Clarke is referring to is the European Tour’s Tournament Committee, which makes the decision as to who will lead the Ryder Cup charge. The meeting to determine the next captain is indeed set for January.

A few days after Europe retained the Ryder Cup at Medinah, Jose Maria Olazabal confirmed that he would step down, and threw the door open to a number of potential successors.

"There are a lot of players who should have the opportunity to be in my spot," said Olazabal. "We have at least eight or nine guys that have the chance and there only a certain number of Ryder Cups."

Clarke and Paul McGinley, two of Olazabal's four assistants at Medinah, are the early favorites to take over – and, interestingly enough, both are current members of the Tournament Committee, which is chaired by Thomas Bjorn, another of Olazabal’s assistants.

"I think these two (Clarke and McGinley) deserve a chance, but I think Thomas deserves a chance and also Paul Lawrie," Olazabal said. "Once those guys do it, we have Lee (Westwood), Padraig (Harrington)."

McGinley, who sank the winning putt for Europe in 2002 at the Belfry, was widely considered the 2014 front-runner. He has been groomed for the job by serving as a Ryder Cup assistant in both 2010 and 2012 as well as captain of the Britain-Ireland squad in the Seve Trophy (a Ryder Cup-style match between teams from Britain-Ireland and Continental Europe) in 2009 and 2011. 

But talk of a Clarke captaincy began swelling in recent days, prompting the former British Open champion to tweet his clarification.

Lee Westwood has come out in favor of Clarke – his former Ryder Cup partner – for 2014, but Rory McIlroy has said he thinks Clarke’s popularity in the United States might make him a better fit for the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National in Minnesota.

If it were up to me, I’d follow Rory’s advice – McGinley in 2014, Clarke in 2016. Clarke is extremely popular over here, and the goodwill he is sure to engender could be a big boost for the Europeans at Hazeltine.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Tournament Committee agrees – when the time comes, of course.