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Once favorite, Clarke appears out of '14 captain race

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Once considered to be the favorite to lead the European contingent at the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, former British Open champion Darren Clarke now appears to be out of the running for the position.

'As much as I would dearly love to captain, this may not be my time,' the Ulsterman told reporters Friday after the second round of the Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa.

'I won one of the biggest prizes in golf by winning the Open and I am exempt for another three years (on the PGA Tour),' Clarke explained. 'If I was given the opportunity to do the captaincy I'd effectively be throwing two of those years away.

'I'm still wrestling with it. It's a tough one for me, but to be honest with you I want to play golf.'

Clarke's comments appear to narrow the race for the 2014 captaincy to Irishman Paul McGinley and Colin Montgomerie, who captained the team to a win in 2010 at Celtic Manor. The Scot did not appear to be among the serious contenders until comments from Clarke last month, indicating that the European captain would need a 'huge presence' to oppose a U.S. team that will be led by eight-time major champion Tom Watson.

Should he sit out 2014, Clarke still appears to be the odds-on favorite to captain the Europeans two years later when the Ryder Cup returns to the U.S. at Hazeltine National. The Ulsterman refused to speculate on how his apparent concession for 2014 might impact his chances in 2016, and also appeared to dispel the notion that the 2014 and 2016 captains may both be named in a joint announcement next week.

'That's not up to me. It's down to the committee and we are only talking about this captaincy,' he added. 'I think it will be purely Gleneagles and that will be it.'