Monday 20 November 2017

Darren Clarke's crazy sleep pattern highlights how much planning he is putting into the Ryder Cup

Aer Lingus ambassador and Ryder Cup Captain Darren Clarke. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Aer Lingus ambassador and Ryder Cup Captain Darren Clarke. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Darren Clarke admits he is losing sleep over his Ryder Cup captaincy but prefers to devote every waking moment to preparing Team Europe for the clash with the USA at Hazeltine.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Clarke and his commitment to the job is unequivocal.

The clock is ticking on the countdown to the start of the 41st Ryder Cup on September 30, so Clarke's current mantra is 'so much to do, so little time.'

"It's on my mind all the time. I don't get to sleep. It's just non-stop.

"It's part of my character, my attention to detail, it's part of me.

"I keep waking up, go back asleep, but then wake up ten minutes later and get my phone out and type something into my notes on my phone and bits and pieces," he said.

Clarke is not in a panic or overwhelmed by the task facing him. It's more about covering every possible angle he can to give Europe a chance of winning on American soil for only the fifth time in Ryder Cup history.

"If I don't give it my all, I'll be disappointed in myself. If I didn't feel that I did everything I possibly could, I would feel as if I'd let the team down and I do not want to do that.

"I want to give those guys the amount of respect that they should have, and I can only do that if I feel as if I've done everything I possibly can," said Clarke.

The captain has a WhatsApp group organised with his five vice-captains - Pádraig Harrington, Thomas Bjorn, Paul Lawrie, Sam Torrance, and Ian Poulter - and they are used to getting communications at all hours of the day and night.

"They've had some funny messages at funny times," he said with a smile.

Rory McIlroy's performance in winning the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday gave Clarke plenty of other reasons to smile, and he hopes the four-time Major champion can maintain his form.

"To have the best player in the world playing the way he is and holing putts, it's massive to have him on the team.

"He's inspirational. Is he a leader? We shall see, but certainly I'm looking at him, wanting him to bring a lot more than his golf game, which I'm sure he will," said Clarke.

Lee Westwood, Clarke's great friend and ISM stablemate, plays his tenth successive Ryder Cup.

Nick Faldo is the leading points scorer in the event with 25 points won in his 11 appearances.

Westwood is on 23 points and needs three to surpass Faldo as the top points earner.

Much as he would love to see the Englishman achieve that feat, Clarke's priority has to be the team and the result.

"Certainly I am not going to play him just to give him the opportunity to get the record. I am only going to play him if he is playing well enough, and to play him with the people I want him to play with.

"Lee is a stalwart of the European team. He was a great partner for me to play with, he was my partner on that first tee for the Ryder Cup at The K Club, and we have a great relationship.

"In saying that, as much as we are friends, he still respects the fact that I am captain, and he is saying things to me as a player would be saying to a captain and not just as a mate."

Speaking of The K Club in 2006 brought up the subject of Clarke's traumatic and emotional Ryder Cup that year when he helped Europe to victory just weeks after the death of his wife Heather from cancer.

Ten years later he ventures forth as captain with a huge weight of responsibility on his broad shoulders. How much he enjoys the experience ultimately depends on the result.

"I've been fortunate the Ryder Cup has been so huge for me, and then 2006 was a very special one for me at The K Club for different reasons.

"I was massively proud to win the Open Championship in 2011.

"I was massively proud to be able to hit that drive 320 yards down the first hole at the K Club on that first tee - to this day I have no idea how I did it.

"But will being captain of the Ryder Cup be bigger than any of those? We'll see, I'll let you know.

Difference

"Would it the difference between being a winning captain and a losing captain? It probably would be, but would it take away from anything I've tried to put into it?

"No, not at all, because I know that I've put my heart and soul into it," said Clarke.

As a player five times, and a vice-captain twice - Celtic Manor in 2010 and Medinah 2012 - Clarke thought he had a handle on the inside story of the Ryder Cup, but captaincy opened his eyes, big time.

"There's a lot more goes on than just pitching up and having a game of golf. There's a lot of meticulous planning to make sure that everything works within the time frame that we've got to do it in during that week because it's a very busy week for the guys.

"The only thing that's really surprised me is the amount of stuff that goes on behind the scenes, but the rest of it is no big difference," he said.

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Darren Clarke provided a putting masterclass in St Anne's GC, where he reminded eager jetsetters that one million seats are up for grabs in the Aer Lingus Great Escape Sale, which runs until midnight September 26. Visit aerlingus.com for details

Irish Independent

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