• 'He's a major champion and a good public speaker'
Lee Westwood has publicly thrown his support behind Darren Clarke's bid to captain Europe's Ryder Cup team in 2014.
Clarke was one of José María Olazábal's vice captains at Medinah just over a week ago. The Northern Irishman has been viewed in the past as a more likely captain in four years' time, when the Ryder Cup returns to the other side of the Atlantic – an option that was recently endorsed by the world No1, Rory McIlroy.
Now, Westwood has emphasised Clarke's case for 2014 at Gleneagles. As things stand, Paul McGinley is the strong bookmakers' favourite for the role.
"There are a lot of good candidates but if I were asked to pick, it would be Darren Clarke," said Westwood. "He has been a Ryder Cup stalwart for many years. The one at the K club will be remembered for him, his great performance under the stress of what he was going through at the time. He is a major champion, a very good public speaker, which has to be taken into account. Tactically he is very astute. I think he has a lot going for him."
Westwood's comments must be viewed as significant given his European Ryder Cup seniority. In the win at Medinah, the Englishman made his eighth appearance against USA.
On the 45-year-old McGinley, Westwood added: "He is good in the team room and makes a great vice captain. He's done a good job at the Vivendi Trophy. Paul has played three Ryder Cups, Darren has played five, won a major championship and a lot of other tournaments worldwide. You have to have a criteria somewhere and he edges it for me."
Clarke himself addressed the situation last week, saying: "If I was asked to captain Europe in two years I definitely could not say 'no'.
"I still dearly want make the team, and even more so after being present in Medinah as part of Ollie's support staff so I would love to play in another Ryder Cup. But unfortunately the way things have been going with my game of late that's not been happening.
"However if it means going to Gleneagles as the captain of the team and not a member of the team, then I would accept that as a huge honour."