The odds on their being back-to-back Irish Ryder Cup captains have widened, with Graeme McDowell seemingly taking himself out of the race.
The Portrush golfer was a vice-captain under Thomas Bjorn when Europe defeated the United States in Paris in 2018, and was also part of Padraig Harrington's unsuccessful backroom team at Whistling Straits last year.
McDowell had been spoken of as a potential successor to Harrington to go up against a Zach Johnson-led USA next year in Rome.
But speaking after his -4 opening round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the 42-year old backed away from succession talk.
"I just don't think I'm quite ready,” he told reporters.
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The captaincy waters have been muddied by the Saudi-backed Super Golf League, which has its eyes on potential European captains like Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Henrik Stenson.
McDowell played with Zach Johnson at Bay Hill on Thursday, but denied he'll be his counterpart in the Italian capital next year.
"I kind of have to put my own individual career first, I feel like," he said.
"I desperately want to get back playing consistently well at a high level again rather than maybe taking my attention away and taking the Ryder Cup captaincy.
“Maybe part of me would be suggesting that I'm not good enough to make the team. Are there 12 better players than me in Europe right now? I've got to ask myself that question. If I'm out here doing what I'm doing, I have to say there's not 12 guys better than me, and I'm good enough to make the team.”
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