By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke is in no hurry to pick his vice-captains for next year’s clash with the United States at Hazeltine, saying he wanted to give the candidates every chance to qualify as players first.
Davis Love III, the Northern Irishman’s American counterpart for the Sept. 30-Oct. 2 clash, announced four of his five vice-captains, including Tiger Woods, earlier this month.
Clarke said he would wait until early April before finalising his list.
“Vice-captains are a tricky thing because the European formula has been that our vice-captains are guys that are still playing,” the 47-year-old told reporters at the Australian Open on Wednesday.
“Those guys are still very, very good players. I don’t want to go ask someone to be a vice-captain because that means I think they’re not going to make the team.
“I don’t want to insult anybody so I’m going to leave it until maybe Augusta next year to see how some of those guys are doing before I ask them.”
The U.S. Masters takes place at Augusta from April 7–10.
Paul McGinley picked Sam Torrance and Des Smyth as his vice-captains for Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup triumph in early March of that year and Clarke said he did already have five names in mind.
“I’ll wait and see if one or two of them have a really good start to the year. If they’re playing that well with that much experience, I want them on the team,” he added.
“I know who I want but I want to give them a bit more time to play.”
One potential candidate might be his close friend and former world number one Lee Westwood, who has helped Europe to seven wins in nine Ryder Cup appearances but is currently ranked 56th in the world after a difficult year.
“I’d love to play in the Ryder Cup,” the 42-year-old Englishman told reporters at The Australian Golf Club.
“It’s not really something I’m looking towards or planning towards, I’m just looking to get the game back into the sort of shape where I can contend week-in and week-out.
“If I do that, I’ll earn Ryder Cup points and hopefully qualify for the team.”
Clarke said he had a clear idea of the role he wanted his vice-captains to play and would not be taking any “yes men” to Minnesota.
“Just guys who have been there and done it before, it’s a week like no other,” he added.
“I want guys who will tell me what they think, not what they think I want to hear, and I’ll take it from there.”
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)