Clarke won't change what's working for Europe Ryder Cup team
LONDON, England -- Darren Clarke isn't planning to rock the Ryder Cup boat. The Northern Irishman will stick to a so-far successful script in the hopes of leading Europe to an unprecedented fourth consecutive Ryder Cup victory.
In fact, Clarke might even outdo 2014 Paul McGinley when it comes to attention to detail.
Clarke, 46, presented a clear message in his first official engagement as Europe's captain: He's not going to veer from the tried-and-tested formula that helped Europe win not only the last three matches, but eight of the last 10.
"To change anything significant from the method we've had of late would be foolish," said Clarke, the 2011 Open Championship winner.
McGinley, for instance, had five vice-captains at Gleneagles last year. All were senior players.
"I would think I'll do something very similar," Clarke said. "Most of the vice-captains have been prospective Ryder Cup captains. It may well be the case that I follow that system because it seems to be working."
The Northern Irishman will base his leadership on the style of previous successful captains under whom he played. Clarke was a team member for Seve Ballesteros (1997), Mark James (1999), Sam Torrance (2002), Bernhard Langer (2004) and Ian Woosnam (2006).
"I'm close to the players. I'll be very player friendly, but I won't shirk my responsibilities of making tough decisions.
"They were all very good captains but Sam was very much a hands-on captain, as was Woosie to a certain degree. I'm still playing and I'm still friendly with possibly a lot of members of the team."
Even though Europe is chasing a fourth consecutive victory, Clarke says the pressure at Hazeltine will be on the U.S. team.
"The Americans have formed a task force and they're doing everything they can," Clarke said. "They're on home soil and they're desperate to win it back again, so I don't see how all the pressure would be on us. We're going for a record win again, and to try and keep the run going. There's going to be a little pressure, but the Americans are very proud. They will be trying to do whatever they can to win."
Expect Clarke to go with experience when he makes his captain's picks in 18 months.
"If you were to say to me, 'Who would you be looking to for your picks?' I would say it would be silly of me not to look toward experience because it's an away match in America. That's much more difficult than a home match."
McGinley made sure even the smallest details were addressed at Gleneagles â right down to having fish in the European team room that were the color of the European flag. Expect Clarke to go to similar lengths.
"I suffer a little bit from OCD as well," he said. "Attention to detail shows your players that you care, and are thinking so much about the whole thing that you're trying to make things perfect. You can never be perfect, but you can try to be perfect."
Clarke's only hesitation was on the subject of captain's picks. McGinley had three while 2012 captain Jose Maria Olazabal had two. U.S. captain Davis Love III will have four.
Clarke won't have four, but remains undecided about two or three.
"I'm having a few different thoughts," he said. "I'm not quite sure what way it's going to go, but I wouldn't go to the tournament committee with a request unless I thought it was a beneficial one."
Clarke has until September, when the qualifying system begins, to make up his mind. Whether it's two or three is mere tinkering around the edges.
Rest assured, Clarke is going to try to perfect Europe's winning formula. He knows he'd be crazy to do otherwise.