• "I have the utmost respect for him," said the 46-year-old
• Clarke preparing to head out to the USA for Shell Houston Open
Darren Clarke is relishing the ‘amazing’ prospect of facing off against good friend Davis Love III at the 2016 Ryder Cup, but won’t let their friendship cloud his ambition to help Europe claim their fourth successive win.
The 46-year-old was speaking in a media conference at Heathrow Airport this morning, one month on from his official appointment as Team Europe’s captain, and spoke of his desire to help retain the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, while insisting that he and American captain Love will remain good friends throughout the process.
“Europe has a chance to make history by winning the Ryder Cup for the fourth time in succession and I am absolutely thrilled to have that opportunity. But, whatever happens, I will also do everything in my power to ensure the good name of the game and the true spirit of this incredible match is carried forward,” Darren Clarke said.
"I have the upmost respect for him as both a player and a person" - Darren Clarke
“What made this honour even more amazing is that Davis Love III has been elected American captain. We have been very good friends ever since I first started playing in America and I have the upmost respect for him as both a player and a person.
“It won’t stop me doing everything I possibly can to ensure the European team beats his, but whatever the result we will remain friends first and foremost.”
A veteran of seven Ryder Cups – five as a player and two as a vice-captain – Darren Clarke had been the overwhelming favourite for the position and was officially announced on February 18, for what he described as the ‘highest honour’ from the European Tour.
He said: “The highest honour the European Tour can bestow on any of its members is the Ryder Cup captaincy. So imagine my sense of joy, pride and in some ways relief when the call came through from Ryder Cup director Richard Hills inviting me to lead Europe into the 2016 match against the USA.
“The more I played in the Ryder Cup, the more I wanted to become captain and, to be honest, if I could have chosen where and when, then it would have been in America and now. I have thoroughly enjoyed playing there and I have always felt very welcome, so I am particularly delighted that everything I wanted has come to fruition.”
Darren Clarke is back in the UK following a month in South Africa playing on the European Tour, where his best finish was T15 at the Tshwane Open.
The 2011 Open champion heads to the USA next week though, where he will prepare for the Masters by taking part in the Shell Houston Open from April 2-5.
Darren Clarke and Davis Love III :: Your thoughts
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