Montgomerie could be man to face Watson

Darren Clarke
Darren Clarke
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Darren Clarke believes Tom Watson’s appointment as American Ryder Cup captain has come as a “bolt from the blue” and really given Europe food for thought before they name their man.

It was widely seen as a straight choice between Clarke and Paul McGinley when the tournament committee meets in Abu Dhabi next month, but last year’s Open champion is not so sure and that may bring 2010 captain Colin Montgomerie back into the equation.

Clarke, in London to receive the PGA Recognition Award for his services to golf, said: “I think it could well affect who is appointed.

“A lot of people, myself included, were surprised when Tom Watson was appointed.

“It’s a big statement and brilliant for the event – there are few more iconic figures in golf, he’s adored in Scotland (the 2014 match is at Gleneagles) and it sends out a statement that they are very serious about winning the trophy back.

“Maybe we have to have a look and consider other people as well. Whoever it is standing on that stage opposite Tom Watson needs a huge presence.

“We seriously need the right man for the job.

“We do have an (unwritten) rule where we don’t ask anybody to do it again, but we might have to look at that.”

Those words might well reduce the odds on Montgomerie being asked to do the job again in his home country.

Initially earmarked for Gleneagles, the eight-time European No 1 agreed to take on the position two years ago at Celtic Manor and led Europe to a nail-biting win.

Clarke said it would be an honour to take charge but he also thinks he could have one more playing appearance in him.

The last of his five caps came at the K Club in 2006 – amazingly he won all his three games just six weeks after his first wife Heather lost her battle with breast cancer.

“If they asked me to do it, it would be a difficult decision to take. I’m still only 44 and it’s not that long ago that I won The Open,” he said.

It was in July last year, of course, that Clarke, 111th in the world at the time, triumphed at Sandwich.

He has since dropped back to 145th in the rankings, but a top-10 finish in the Australian PGA Championship has raised his optimism for 2013 and beyond.

The Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles will not feature on the European Tour in 2014 due to the venue’s staging of the Ryder Cup, but will return in the summer of 2015.