Darren Clarke may never get a better chance to press his claims to be Europe’s next Ryder Cup captain than this week’s Portugal Masters.
Clarke is seemingly in a head-to-head battle with Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez for the right to lead Europe’s defence of the title at Hazeltine in 2016.
A five-man Ryder Cup committee will announce in January their choice, and yesterday, that panel was completed with the appointment of David Howell as the European Tour’s tournament committee representative.
By a quirk of the draw sheet, Clarke will play the opening two rounds of the Portugal Masters today and tomorrow alongside Howell.
Howell, 39, played on two successful Ryder Cup teams in 2004 and ‘06, alongside Clarke on both occasions.
He joins the three previous European Ryder Cup captains – Paul McGinley, José María Olazábal and Colin Montgomerie and European Tour chief executive George O’Grady on the panel.
Clarke played on five teams from 1997 to 2006, while the last of four caps Jimenez won came in 2010.
A decision will be made in the new year.
The Yorkshire trio of Simon Dyson, Danny Willett and John Parry – who is on the verge of losing his playing rights – are also in action.