Wednesday 7 December 2016

Darren Clarke insists Europe's Ryder Cup winning streak is 'irrelevant'

Published 26/09/2016 | 16:21

Captain Darren Clarke is taking nothing for granted despite Europe's impressive recent Ryder Cup record
Captain Darren Clarke is taking nothing for granted despite Europe's impressive recent Ryder Cup record

Europe captain Darren Clarke insists winning the last three Ryder Cups is irrelevant as his side embark on their bid to win an unprecedented four in a row.

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The team assembled at Hazeltine National Golf Club near Minneapolis on Monday hoping to continue their dominance in the biennial event, which extends to 10 victories and a draw in the last 15 encounters.

Six of the last seven - with Valhalla in 2008 the only exception - have gone the way of Europe and while that has provoked much consternation, hand-wringing and over-examination of processes in the United States Clarke is keen to ensure their past record does not produce any complacency.

"I think it's irrelevant going into this week. Each Ryder Cup is individual in its own rights, " he said.

"We have had different scenarios going on in past Ryder Cups and this is a totally different one where we're currently under the shadow of Mr Palmer's (one of golf's greats Arnold Palmer died on Sunday aged 87) passing away.

"We will pay our respects but come Friday we will be out there battling like the two great teams that we are.

"What I was going to say to the players I'm still going to say to the players but obviously with this passing of the King (as Palmer was known) it's a slightly different perspective on the whole thing now.

"Whatever happens this week it will be another great chapter in the history of the Ryder Cup."

Clarke has stuck mainly to the tried-and-tested formula employed by previous captains in how he has made his selection for players who did not qualify automatically and also his assistants.

That is in contrast to the United States, who employed a specially-assembled task force to look at what was going wrong following the fall-out from the 16 1/2-11 1/2 drubbing at Gleneagles which resulted in players like Phil Mickelson turning on then captain Tom Watson in the immediate aftermath.

Clarke admits he is very much of the opinion that something which is not broken does not need to be fixed.

"I've been doing it the same way as the European Tour keep on doing it," he added.

"Obviously our system has been reasonably successful of late so consequently that would be very foolish of me to try to make any changes to that system.

"The Tour run a very tight ship. They know exactly what happens.

"We didn't have a task force as such. We just keep doing the way that we've been doing it in Europe.

"We've been very fortunate that it's been a formula that seems to be very successful."

The United States, however, are still searching for that elusive solution to put an end to a miserable run in an event they won virtually every time up until 1985.

After the task force made its recommendations, responsibility was handed down to a Ryder Cup committee and even now, on the eve of competition, there is still an active sub-committee of sorts as world number seven Bubba Watson, who did not receive Love's final wildcard pick made on Sunday, was made the fifth assistant captain.

But despite putting the whole process under the microscope Love admits it is still far from perfect.

"I made some mistakes," said the 52-year-old, in his second spell as captain after being in charge for Europe's 'Miracle at Medinah' the last time the Ryder Cup was held on US soil.

"We didn't know how to handle the phone calls after the three picks; who do you call, who do you not call?

"What do I do with Justin Thomas or Daniel Berger, what do I say to them before they go play The Tour Championship? Those things were very awkward.

"We learned a lot this time but we are very happy with the outcome."

Love hopes the players will take care of business for him on the course and is looking for his senior players to assume responsibility at key moments.

"We have a lot of great leaders and we can't tell who is really going to step up," he added.

"We have leaders that have already stepped up in past years, like Phil Mickelson, but we have Zach Johnson - Jordan Spieth has stepped up to be a great player but also a leader in the locker room.

"We are heavy on leadership and heavy on passion. We've just got to get out and play our game."

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