Tom English: Players win Ryder Cups not captains

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EUROPE’S next Ryder Cup captain will be announced in Dubai in January, but even the dogs in the street already know that, despite Paul McGinley being the bookmakers’ favourite, the probability is that the job at Gleneagles in 2014 will fall to Darren Clarke instead.

Both Irishmen have their backers. Lee Westwood wants Clarke, which is no surprise since they’re stable-mates and boozing brothers. Justin Rose reckons McGinley would be good for Gleneagles with Clarke a better fit for 2016 in America. Westwood calls Clarke an astute tactician; Rose says McGinley is a fine strategist.

Tactics? Strategy? Yeah, whatever. Ian Woosnam has gone down in history as a winning Ryder Cup captain but the truth is that Woosnam had precious little do to with the glory of the K Club. It was all down to the players, like it always is. Colin Montgomerie is a “winning captain”, as he constantly told us on Sky Sports, but he’d have been a dud captain had Graeme McDowell not held his nerve in the last match on the golf course at Celtic Manor and won the day for Europe.

The same with Jose Maria Olazabal, another lucky captain whose shortcomings in the job will be buried for posterity because Ian Poulter played like God. Poulter’s remarkable feats at Medinah illustrated 
what nonsense it is to attach too much importance to the role of the captaincy. As long as they’re not Mr Bean – or Nick Faldo – they should be okay so long as their players are on form.

The captain has to be respected and needs a touch of the statesman about him, as well having very deep pockets for all the cash he can make from the job, but spare us the cosmic talk of strategists and tacticians.

This isn’t a rocket 
these guys are trying to launch. After all, the best leader that Europe has had in the Ryder Cup since Bernhard Langer’s time at Oakland Hills in 2004 was Poulter, armband or no armband.