Clarke sets sights on 2012 Ryder Cup spot
Published 17/05/2011 | 05:00
Darren Clarke has expressed his determination to play on Jose Maria Olazabal's team at the 2012 Ryder Cup in Chicago.
And Sunday's victory in Majorca also boosts the Ulsterman's hopes of becoming European captain himself.
Two of Colin Montgomerie's assistants at Celtic Manor, Paul McGinley (44) and Thomas Bjorn (41) should rival evergreen Miguel Angel Jimenez (46) to lead Europe into action at Gleneagles in 2014.
Clarke (42) was also a member of Monty's backroom team, but he dislikes the course upon which the 2014 Ryder Cup will be played. He's believed more likely to contend for the captaincy at Whistling Straits in 2016.
That's five years away, but Clarke last weekend proved there's life in the old dog yet as he soared back into the top 100 of the world rankings at No 88.
Bjorn indicated he's also capable of remaining a force on tour by winning for the second time in six months in Qatar last January. All this increases the pressure on McGinley to recover top form and fitness after a grim battle with knee problems.
The Dubliner showed his gift for team captaincy at the Seve Trophy in 2009 but lost his Tour card last season. Playing in 2011 on a one-year 'Career Money' exemption, he needs to click back into top gear. Last Friday's missed cut in Pula was his fifth in nine outings this year.
However, McGinley will hope to make an impact at next week's BMW PGA at Wentworth, where he finished second in 2005.
- Padraig Harrington is hoping physiotherapy and rest at home this week will help him recover from a knee strain in time for next week's BMW.
The injury severely hampered Harrington (39) at Sawgrass, contributing to his fourth missed cut in six outings.
Initially, he tweaked his hamstring playing with his kids in the garden, putting his right knee under stress at Quail Hollow a fortnight back.
Harrington required surgery after injuring the joint playing football with pals last May.