March 23, 2015 / 1:48 PM / 4 years ago

Captain Clarke vows to preserve true Ryder Cup spirit

LONDON (Reuters) - Darren Clarke has pledged to do all he can to avoid some of the mistakes of the past when he captains Europe in the 2016 Ryder Cup in Minnesota.

Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland chips onto the 17th green during the third day of practice for the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, August 6, 2014. REUTERS/ John Sommers II

The event has occasionally been marred by controversy, notably in the so-called ‘War on the Shore’ at Kiawah Island in 1991 and at Brookline in 1999 when U.S. players overdid victory celebrations by trampling on the line of a European putt.

More recent Ryder Cups have been played in a friendly atmosphere and Clarke believes the fact he has an excellent relationship with American skipper Davis Love III will help keep things cordial at Hazeltine Golf Club.

“I will do everything in my power to ensure the good name of the game and the true spirit of this incredible match is carried forward,” the 46-year-old Northern Irishman said in a European Tour news release on Monday.

“What made this honor 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 utmost 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.”

Clarke has tasted defeat just once in seven previous appearances in the biennial event, five times as a player and twice as a vice-captain, and is still on cloud nine more than a month after being picked to succeed Paul McGinley as skipper.

“The highest honor the European Tour can bestow on any of its members is the Ryder Cup captaincy,” added the 2011 British Open champion.

“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 U.S.

“The more I played in the Ryder Cup, the more I wanted to become captain and ... if I could have chosen where and when, then it would have been in America and now,” said Clarke. 

“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.”

Editing by Ed Osmond

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