Darren Clarke Backed for Ryder Cup Captaincy Despite Denial

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By Nick Howson | October 11, 2012 2:57 AM EST

Darren Clarke should be Europe's next Ryder Cup captain, according to Lee Westwood.

Reports had suggested the Northern Irishman had been approached over taking on the role for the 2014 match at Gleneagles.

But despite denying that he had been offered the role by powerful figures of the European Tour, Westwood said Clarke is the natural choice for the position.

"If I were asked to pick, it would be Darren Clarke," said Westwood. "He has been a Ryder Cup stalwart for many years. The one at the K Club in 2006 will be remembered for him, his great performance under the stress of what he was going through at the time.

"He is a major champion, tactically he is very astute. I think he has a lot going for him."

Clarke wrote on Twitter in reply to the rumours: "To clarify, I have not been offered the Ryder Cup captaincy. It's not decided by the committee until January. Would be a huge honour if asked."

Irishman Paul McGinley, who won the Ryder Cup with Europe in 2002, 2004 and 2006, remains the bookies favourite for the role having worked as the vice-captain to both Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabel in the past two matches.

McGinley had the honour of holing the winning put in victory at the Belfry in his first Ryder Cup outing, while Clarke's inspiration performance at the K Club, which came just months after the death of his wife Heather from cancer means his name will forever remain in the competition's folklore, and Westwood accepts either man would lend the team substantial experience.

"Paul makes a great vice-captain," added Westwood. "Paul has played three Ryder Cups, Darren has played five, won a major championship and a lot of other tournaments worldwide. You have to have criteria somewhere and he edges it for me."

In reply to questions of leading Europe at Gleneagles, Clarke said: "If I was asked to captain Europe in two years I definitely could not say 'no'," said Clarke.

"I still dearly want make the team, but if it means going to Gleneagles as captain of the team and not a member of the team, then I would accept that as a huge honour."

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