Aaaagggghhh, reading articles about golf can be mind-numbing.
I’ve read a lot in the fall out of the Ryder Cup with journalists giving their appraisals, their match reports and being almost gleeful in their criticism of the players and mainly Captain Clarke, and wanted to wait until posting something.
Yes they lost.
Everybody is pissed off about that this side of the pond and in the heat of the moment we think we know better.
But nobody will be hurting more than the players or Clarke.
But once we have calmed down we have to be realistic and pragmatic.
The Ryder Cup format is always going to be incredibly close. From the highest ranked player to the lowest you are looking at two shots maximum in stroke average and on the course they played at Hazeltine, in matchplay, it was always going to be a putting contest, as it often is.
It just happens Europe have come out on the better side of that contest for what in modern times is an unprecedented six out of seven times.
Clarke was involved as a player or vice captain in five of those Ryder Cups, winning EVERY time.
So there was absolutely nobody more qualified to be captain this year. And from what his players and vice captains have said there was nothing more he could have done.
These are the guys who were in the team room, out on the course, inside the ropes and privy to what all the players were feeling and thinking.
Clarke and many of his team were at every European Tour event, week in week out, seeing the grind on the range, talking with players and caddies, many they have known for years, to work out the best way to win another Ryder Cup. The things people simply don’t see.
Clarke was compiling every stat possible from every possible source and picking the brains of some of the world’s finest sporting leaders. Just to find that small edge required.
And Clarke personally is one of the most liked and also respected guys on tour, a mentor to the team's superstar and is jovial but doesn’t take no shit either.
And yet Jonny... Fucking... Brown... from The Telegraph or some other tosspot-come-lately dip their toe in after a jolly at the Ryder Cup and seems to think they’re more qualified and know better.
It’s an easy content piece the post-mortem after a defeat. People are pissed off and will buy-in to your bullshit however much it lacks substance, fact or qualified opinion.
But this isn’t the England football team where you see the player’s every move...
This is golf where they are grinding on a Wednesday night in Austria,or a Friday evening after a missed cut in South Africa, the things you don't see on Sky Sports.
But Darren Clarke is there, or has someone there. Eyes everywhere.
So when people pipe up with hindsight and say ‘Oh he picked Lee Westwood because he was a mate' or 'He put him in the evening fourballs on Saturday because of this or that,’ it's nauseating.
Yes. He did.
And he didn’t do it because he was mates with him. In fact that is all the more reason not to pick someone knowing there will be recriminations from keyboard warriors and dullard journalists.
If you trust someone like Darren obviously did with Lee then you have faith in them when they say they want to play and you make a decision on that.
Westwood missed a couple of short putts. So be it. Nobody knew that was going to happen and nobody will be more gutted than Lee and Darren.
They didn't try to lose, they tried to win, and are better at that than most. They're winners and that's why they are there and have the records they have, and with all due respect most of us aren't making a living as professional golfers.
Age hasn't caught up with them or any of that shit either. Clarke is sat in a buggy and Westwood almost won The Masters... another ridiculous headline I read!
But unless you were on that putting green completing drill after drill in the evening after a European Tour event in Germany. Or watching all 18 holes of a Friday of a potential wildcard pick in Morocco… I just don’t think you are more qualified than Darren Clarke.
In the Ryder Cup against an incredibly evenly matched team, you will win some, and you will lose some.
But when Clarke said he done everything he possibly could and has no regrets then a legend like he is deserves us to respect him on that.
It’s easy to blame with hindsight but it’s not easy to get to a position of having no regrets after defeat.
Respect that. Respect Clarke. And cut the shit.
I'm the Managing Editor at The Club. I like putting and Rioja. I dislike my low slice.