Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke has been selected as the man to captain Europe’s Ryder Cup team next year at Hazeltine, United States.
Clarke, the two-time Ryder Cup vice-captain was chosen buy a five-man panel ahead of Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain and Thomas Bjorn of Denmark. Who both have impressive Ryder Cup histories.
Three of Europe’s most recent captains, Paul McGinley, Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie along with European Tour chief executive George O’Grady and players’ representative David Howell, made up the selection panel that reached the decision.
"The Ryder Cup has been a massive part of my life and my career, so to have the chance to lead Europe next year is a huge honour”
A terrific track record
As a player the Northern Irishman took part in five Ryder Cups, winning four, and gaining a total of 11.5 points from 20 matches for his team. He was also a non-playing vice-captain for wins on two separate occasions in 2010 and 2012.
Clarke told reporters: “I am naturally extremely proud to be selected as European Ryder Cup captain for 2016. The Ryder Cup has been a massive part of my life and my career, so to have the chance to lead Europe next year is a huge honour.”
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A strained relationship
There were rumours circulating that since McGinley was named captain for last year’s victory at Gleneagles, the relationship between the two had become strained. Clarke reportedly put himself forward to captain the team that year as well before giving his backing to Montgomerie as opposed to the Irishman.
However, last year’s winning captain clearly didn’t let that get in his way of picking his successor, after all, he would only want what is best for Team Europe.
“I am lucky to have played and worked under some fantastic captains in my seven Ryder Cups to date"
Clarke wasn’t involved in last year’s win over the US and his own playing career is winding as he has failed to record a top-10 finish on the European Tour since his Open Championship win in 2011.
Up 'four' the challenge
He would have gained a lot of experience from working under a host of great captains from his time as a player and vice-captain with the likes of Montgomerie, Olazabal and the late, great Seve Ballesteros being just a few.
Clarke said: “I am lucky to have played and worked under some fantastic captains in my seven Ryder Cups to date.
“I look forward to the challenge of trying to follow in their footsteps and help Europe to a fourth consecutive Ryder Cup victory at Hazeltine next year."
Clarke will have to wait until next week to find out who his opposite number will be when the US captain is announced. A favourite for the job at this time is former captain, Davis Love. Love was the man in charge for the 'Miracle at Medinah’ in 2012 and could get the chance to right some wrongs from that Ryder Cup defeat.