Darren Clarke biding time on Ryder Cup vice-captain decision

Darren Clarke has fired a first pre-Hazeltine salvo insisting he would not insult any European Ryder Cup aspiring player by inviting them to become a vice-captain until after next April’s Masters.

Darren Clarke biding time on Ryder Cup vice-captain decision

Clarke put himself in direct contrast with USA rival team captain Davis Love 111 who recently announced the appointment of three further vice-captains, including Tiger Woods, to make up his full complement of five vice-captains.

However Love 111 quickly surprised many observers in choosing Jim Furyk, who is currently lying 10th on the USA Team points table and already two spots from qualifying for a 10th straight Ryder Cup. .

As well, Love could find himself on the back foot in indicating ‘he would cross that bridge when he comes to it’ should Woods qualify for his team.

But then Clarke, who is contesting this week’s Australian Open, is not about to be left red-faced in naming a vice-captain who could later qualify automatically for his 2016 team.

“Choosing vice-captains is a tricky thing as the European Tour formula has always been that our vice-captains are prospective captains and guys still playing because those guys are still very, very good players," he said.

“Therefore I am not going to be choosing vice-captains until I know really they are not going to qualify automatically for the team and I don’t want to insult anybody.

“So I will be leaving the issue of picking my vice-captains to Augusta next year to assess how some of the guys are doing.

“Certainly I have five guys in mind who I would like to be a part of my team but I will wait and see if they have a great start to the New Year and in that way I will have all the experience I want before considering my vice-captains.”

Clarke is competing in Sydney for a first time since 2008 when the Australian Open at nearby Royal Sydney, and with the Northern Irishman recalling how lucky he was not to be seriously injured when a motorised cart drove into a deep bunker.

The threat of a thunderstorm brought a halt to play and with Clarke joining Robert Allenby in being rushed back to the safety of the clubhouse.

“The guy driving us back to the clubhouse didn’t know the course, and it was a very fast cart and he just drove straight into bunker that naturally you couldn’t see in driving the opposite way down this particular hole,” said Clarke.

“Robert was lucky as he jumped out but the cart flipped over in what was a big drop and it was lucky no-one was seriously hurt.”

Unfortunately, Clarke didn’t escape unscathed in suffering bruising and a sore leg.”

In a golfing first the gleaming Ryder Cup will be on the first tee at The Australian Club week-long at the Australian Open.

Clarke, who is also the first reigning Ryder Cup captain to compete ‘Down Under’, brought the golden trophy with him from Dubai where he had overseen last week the first measurements undertaking of clothing for possible and probable Hazeltine team members.

“Knowing how strong golf is in Australia I thought it only appropriate I bring the Ryder Cup down here to Australia,” said Clarke.

“I guess it’s part of my role as captain to help promote the Ryder Cup and while it may only be played in the States and Europe it’s now become a huge sporting event so to see it sitting beside the Open Championship Claret Jug on the first tee all week should make for a great sight.”

And in another first Clarke will become next year the first current Ryder Cup Captain to be exempt into all four Majors on the back of his 2011 Open Championship triumph.

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