Clarke tells Europe to keep faith

Ryder Cup European captain Darren Clarke (left) and counterpart Davis Love III of the United States embrace at Hazeltine National Golf Club. The US regained the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2008 with a 17-11 victory on Sunday.
Ryder Cup European captain Darren Clarke (left) and counterpart Davis Love III of the United States embrace at Hazeltine National Golf Club. The US regained the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2008 with a 17-11 victory on Sunday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Defeated Ryder Cup captain insists their system is sound, warns against over-reaction

CHASKA (Minnesota) • Even when broken, do not fix it. That is the message from Europe's Ryder Cup contingent as they assess the heavy defeat by the US at Hazeltine, the hosts' 17-11 victory their biggest since 1981.

Europe had earlier implemented what was widely regarded as a successful Ryder Cup framework, with Darren Clarke, 48, among those insisting that it should not be changed now.

"Why would you have a knee-jerk reaction when the whole system has been doing well?" asked the defeated captain, who has been spared the heavy criticism thrown at some of his predecessors mainly because he led a team with six debutants.

"Absolutely leave it as it is. They have been successful thus far. We came up against a very strong team and captain. They've played better than we have. There is no other answer.

"They were a brilliant European team, sensational. Everyone pulled for each other.

"One of my big things coming in was that 'shoulder to shoulder' thing taken from our wonderful Irish rugby team. The guys showed that in a different sport. Those guys would have jumped through burning hoops for each other."

Clarke will form part of the group who will decide his successor, with suggestions that an announcement could be made before Christmas.

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

Why would you have a knee-jerk reaction when the whole system has been doing well? Absolutely leave it as it is.

DARREN CLARKE, Europe's Ryder Cup captain, on sticking with their framework.

Dane Thomas Bjorn, 45, is the favourite to lead the European team into the 2018 Ryder Cup in France with Padraig Harrington, 45, also part of that discussion.

In Bjorn's favour is the sense that a continental captain is required to break the mould of those from Britain or Ireland. But Irishman Harrington, a three-time Major champion, has by far the more stellar resume as a player.

Rory McIlroy has claimed that the "culture" of the European Tour means the captaincy choice is not absolutely crucial.

"We obviously need a captain, need a leader, but it could be any one of a number of guys," the world No. 3 said. "It goes in cycles but this being the first time with as many rookies since 2010, I think you will see a lot of these rookies come back and play the next time."

McIlroy's support for Clarke, whom he described as "fantastic", was echoed by Ian Poulter. The Englishman was a vice-captain at Hazeltine.

The deepest questioning of Clarke will inevitably surround the wild-card selection of Lee Westwood, who failed to return a single point at Hazeltine and his missed putt late on Saturday was an unfortunate turning point for Europe.

"Darren has tried his b******s off," Poulter said. "Darren is going to be criticised for picking Lee but that's unfair. You cannot expect to take seven or eight rookies, it's just not possible. Unfortunately Lee missed some putts and he might not have played his best golf.

"The template doesn't need to change. We probably have a transitional team with a lot of young blood. If you look at where the young blood is going to be two years from now, you would expect them to be stronger."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2016, with the headline 'Clarke tells Europe to keep faith'. Print Edition | Subscribe