Darren Clarke’s hopes of playing his way back into the Ryder Cup team – and forcing captain Colin Montgomerie into finding another assistant – have received a huge boost.
Currently 21st on the points table but with a chance of moving into the all-important top nine at this week’s 3 Irish Open in Killarney, Clarke has been invited to the US PGA Championship for the second year running.
The event takes place in two weeks’ time at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin – a course which brings back mixed memories for the Irishman.
When the event was last staged there in 2004 Clarke shot 65 to lead on the first day, was joint third with a round to go, but then closed with a 76 and dropped to 13th.
It was only last week that the 41-year-old was unveiled as one of the cup vice-captains alongside Thomas Bjorn and Paul McGinley.
“Yes I will play if I qualify,” said Clarke.
“I think Monty will want me to if I do. I think Thomas and Paul will too. There’s no question about that. If I do play well in the events I have left I possibly could give him a bigger headache. We shall see.
“We spoke at length about it and Monty said that he wants me there one way or the other.
“Right now as it stands I’m outside the team and I’m delighted to be part of his backroom staff.”