• Former Open champ said he would've been 'very foolish' to change it
• Heaps praise on Rory McIlroy ahead of this week's Irish Open
European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke has said he would’ve been ‘very foolish’ to change the qualification procedure for his team ahead of the upcoming match at Hazeltine in September 2016.
The 46-year-old, who was revealed as Team Europe’s captain on February 18, will keep the current format of four players selected from the Ryder Cup European Points List – which is based on points gained from events on the European Tour Race to Dubai and starts at the M2M Russian Open in September – five players from the Ryder Cup World Points List – based on points gained from Official World Golf Ranking events – and three wildcard picks.
The 2011 Open champion alluded to the success of Paul McGinley’s side at Gleneagles last September as the defining reason behind continuing the current process and revealed he was more than happy to keep it that way.
"It would have been very foolish of me to try to make any changes to that system" - Darren Clarke
Speaking ahead of this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, Darren Clarke said: “I did give it a lot of thought. I looked at a lot of stats and comparisons from what teams would have been had the system been slightly different in past teams. But my overall feeling was that with the team that Paul had assembled at Gleneagles, and how successful they were, it would have been very foolish of me to try to make any changes to that system.
“Overall, I'm absolutely delighted that we have the same qualifying system and hopefully that will enable us to have the strongest possible European team going to Hazeltine - because we are going to need it.”
Clarke also heaped praise on Rory McIlroy for his role in hosting the Irish Open and using his position as the world No.1 to help attract a stellar field for the event at Royal County Down GC, which includes the likes of Rickie Fowler, Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood.
“It’s great to be back here with Rory as host,” said Clarke. “You can't speak highly enough of what he's done, what he's achieved but also what he's trying to do off the golf course with his foundation. For a man so young to be giving so much back again speaks volumes about him.
“He's taken his position as world No.1 and embraced it. I think if you take a look at the field this week, it’s a reflection of how high Rory is held by his peers. It's going to be a fantastic week of golf and the winner is going to have to play some seriously good golf come Sunday.”
Darren Clarke gets his Irish Open campaign underway at 7.40pm tomorrow in a group that includes Luke Donald and Danny Willett.
Darren Clarke :: Right qualification?
Is Darren Clarke right to keep the qualification process the same? Leave your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section below.