Darren Clarke knows he might have to hurt some feelings when it comes time to pick the Ryder Cup wild cards.
Clarke, the European squad’s captain for this year’s event at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minnesota, was recently asked if he would be tempted to select close friends with any of his three wild-card picks. Ryder Cup mainstays Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, who have combined for 14 Ryder Cup appearances, would not automatically qualify for the team based on their current standing.
“An old pals’ act?” Clarke told the Daily Mail. “How could I possibly do that? The Ryder Cup is much, much more important than an old pals’ act. That does not happen. Under no circumstances would I let myself … that’s not going to happen. No chance.
“I would have no problem with saying to Lee I was picking a rookie instead of him for a wildcard. Lee would be my best mate but I would have no problem. Why? Because it’s for the team. It’s not individuals. You have got to manage individuals’ egos but the team is there together.
“The wildcards could be difficult decisions. The phone calls to the guys that don’t make the team — especially if I am very close to them — that will be very difficult. But that’s what I have to do. That’s part of the job. It’s part of the remit. But to have to do that, I have no issue with that at all. It wouldn’t cost me a thought.
“It could cost me friendships. That may well be the case. But I have to do what I have to do for the betterment of the European Tour. It’s a position where tough decisions have to be made and when the Tour afforded me the honor of being captain, those decisions come along with it. Sentiment? There is no place for sentiment in getting the best team possible.”
Clarke also added that there’s a “ruthless” streak to him and that he has “no problem using it.”
Poulter said just last month he’s “adamant to say that I will make this team.”