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'If I don’t give it my all I’ll be disappointed in myself... I would feel as if I'd let the team down'

Darren Clarke admits that his role as Ryder Cup captain has been giving him sleepless nights.

Image: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

DARREN CLARKE CLAIMS he is losing sleep as he frets about nearly every detail of Europe’s Ryder Cup defence against the US later this month.

Hostilities resume between Team Europe and the US in Hazeltine on 29 September, as Clarke’s men seek to record a fourth win on the bounce over the Americans.

Clarke has only once suffered defeat in the Ryder Cup out of five tournaments as a player and two as a vice-captain, with that loss coming on away soil at the infamous ‘Battle of Brookline’ in 1999.

Now European captain, Clarke is keen to ensure that his side does not suffer a similar Stateside fate come the final day of play on the first weekend of October. And the Dungannon man has been meticulous in his preparation for the event.

“It’s been a lot more that what I originally thought it would be, put it that way,” said Clarke of his captaincy role. “I didn’t realise there was as much that the captain has to do prior to the event.”

His vice-captains — including Pádraig Harrington — have all been treated to late-night/early-morning messages from Clarke on their WhatsApp message group.

“It’s on my mind all the time. I don’t get to sleep, it’s just non-stop,” continued the 48-year-old. “It’s part of my character. You know my OCD, I want to… well, not OCD, but my attention to detail, it’s part of me.

“I keep waking up, go back asleep but then wake up 10 minutes later and get my phone out and type something into my notes on my phone and bits and pieces.

“If I don’t give it my all I’ll be disappointed in myself. If I didn’t feel that I did everything I possibly could, I would feel as if I’d let the team down and I do not want to do that.”

While the Irishman emphasised that he has continually consulted his vice-captains for advice, he revealed that he wants Rory McIlroy to play a leader’s role at Hazeltine.

World number three McIlroy is in flying form after his recent TPC Boston victory where he claimed the Deutsche Bank Championship. And Clarke hopes McIlroy will bring more than just his talent to the Ryder Cup.

“Is Rory a leader? He’s inspirational. Is he a leader? We shall see,” said Clarke. “But certainly I’m looking at him, wanting him to bring a lot more than his golf game, which I’m sure he will do,” added Clarke, who is an ambassador for Aer Lingus.

Darren Clarke was speaking as an Aer Lingus ambassador to promote their Great Escape Sale, covering all of Britain, Europe and North America. Visit aerlingus.com for details.

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Ciarán Gallagher

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