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Memorializing a Tragic Loss

The question came during a media conference at the WGC-Bridgestone, aimed at Scott Verplank. It had to do with Darren Clarke, who recently lost his wife to cancer. Basically, the questioner wondered if Verplank expected Clarke to play in the Ryder Cup, and if Verplank believed the Europeans might use Clarkes appearance as some sort of rallying point. Might the Euros use the situation as a win one for Darren kind of approach?
The question was well-intended, no doubt. The inquisitor was full of sympathy. But it wasnt too well thought out. The terrible loss suffered by Darren Clarke is nothing to trivialize by making it the basis for winning or losing a game ' no matter if it is a grown mans (or womans) occupation, it is still just a game. Europe, I am sure and Verplank is sure, would not stoop to such a measure.
Verplank has deep personal feelings for Clarke, as does a lot of the Americans. The fact that Darren is from Ireland and therefore a European doesnt make this one week of the Ryder Cup any different. His tragic loss far transcends the outcome of a golf match.
I don't think that just because he was on the other team that they're going to be feeling more sorry for him than we are, said Verplank. That (the death) is so much more important than playing a golf tournament, unfortunately for him.
Verplank is certain that a memorial of some kind will be held at the Ryder Cup venue in Ireland, and the Americans will be just as sorrowful as the Europeans over the tragedy. People from all over the golf world, as a matter of fact, will want to express their sorrow.
He's a great guy, said Verplank. He had a lovely wife and a couple of young kids, and gosh, golf is nothing compared to that. I don't think that's part of this exhibition. That's something that's much more important, and we'll deal with it either one-on-one with Darren or privately.
Think about the possible scenario for a moment: just suppose the Europeans adopt the win-one-for-Heather approach. And suppose Europe wins the matches because of that incentive. Or, contrastingly, suppose they lose?
Would not the Americans be placed in a terribly difficult position? Should the U.S. win, would not they be somehow desecrating her memory? Would not America secretly hope Europe wins, to somehow provide what would be a tribute to Heather Clarke? It would be a most uncomfortable position to place the U.S. players, who probably were just as much a friend of Clarke as were the Euros.
I don't know if they (the Europeans) all got dedicated to play great in her memory and they won, if that would make that much difference to him, Verplank said. If that was the case and it all happened like that and that's how he felt about it, then if they win, I hope it makes a big difference for him. But if we win, I don't think it's going to make any difference to him.
I don't know what he's doing, but he's a good man and he's well liked on both sides of the pond. I don't know that that's really relative to this deal I think our team feels just as emotionally about it as their team does.
Verplank cant deny that Clarke playing might mean a great deal to the Europeans. And such a lift might be the difference in winning and losing. Verplank wasnt about to say that Darrens return would be inspirational. But it would be inspirational to everyone, U.S. and European players alike.
BUT - the players would be rejoicing over Clarke returning to some normalcy in his life, and not in playing the kind of golf that would be advantageous to Darrens team.
You know ' sorry, and very - I don't even know the words, said Verplank
But, it's a very sad situation.
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