Clarke drops hint on Ryder captaincy race
Darren Clarke, many people's favourite to lead Europe at the next Ryder Cup, said today: "As much as I would dearly love to be captain, this may not be my time".
The 2011 Open champion is not officially pulling out of the race yet, but it will be no surprise now if next Tuesday's tournament committee meeting in Abu Dhabi comes down to a choice between Paul McGinley and Colin Montgomerie.
Clarke himself raised the possibility last month of Montgomerie being recalled to face golfing great Tom Watson, America's surprise choice to be captain at Gleneagles next year, three years after he was in charge for the victory in Wales.
But committee chairman Thomas Bjorn said on Wednesday: "I don't have a strong view against appointing somebody twice, but there are a lot of other people I think could do a very good job."
McGinley would appear to fit into that category. He has twice been a winning Britain and Ireland captain at the Seve Trophy and in five Ryder Cups - three as a player and the last two as an assistant captain - Europe have always come out on top.
Moreover, world number one Rory McIlroy is among those who has come out and said he would like the 46-year-old Dubliner to be captain at Gleneagles next year and then Clarke in America in 2016.
It was less than two months ago that one newspaper reported that Clarke had "won the race", but he quickly denied he had been offered the post.
Since then a vast improvement in his form has led him to say he believes he could yet return to the side in Scotland. He will be 46 by then.
There is also the fact that winning The Open 18 months ago has opened doors to him all over the world again, particularly in America - and there is a history of Ryder Cup captains suffering a downturn in their playing fortunes.