This is one of the bitterest disputes in golf. It all started when Clarke changed his mind and decided not to support Paul McGinley’s bid for the Ryder cup captaincy back in 2014. To make matters worse ,Clarke decided to run for the job, a step too far for McGinley who saw this as the ultimate backstab. Asked about the relationship at the time, the Irishman said: “Our conversations are short and sweet. It’s: ‘How are you?’ ‘Fine’. Move on.”
Rifts like these have no place in Europe’s team-centric ethos built on camaraderie. Clarke must have known this as he looked to rebuild a bridge that he hadn’t so much burned as he had it rigged with explosives.
What’s good about Clarke’s apology is that they’ve moved on from something after a few years of childish grudge-holding.
“We must have stood and talked for an hour on the range. He was giving me tips and advice about what he had done. We had a great conversation there and I apologised to him.” Said Clarke.
“I made some mistakes and hopefully they are mistakes I won’t make again. Everybody makes them now and again and if you are a big enough man, you understand that you have done it. The reason why our relationship broke down was my fault and that’s fine. I am big enough to accept it.” He added.
Europe’s captain also spoke about the difficult decisions he will have to make as team captain. Many think he will be in the difficult position of having to overlook friendships when it comes to his wildcard selections. Imagine what Ian Poulter’s reaction will be like when he doesn’t get the call up – the Englishman is now ranked outside the world’s top 50. He never avoids controversy if he can help it.
“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 good for Europe that their captain is looking to overcome personal grievances. McGinley was a successful Ryder cup captain and has a lot to offer the Europeans. It’s this kind of behaviour that makes you think Europe have the advantage going into Hazeltine in October.