Darren Clarke named Europe's Ryder Cup captain for 2016

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Darren Clarke is delighted to have been selected as Ryder Cup captain

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke will captain holders Europe in the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, United States.

A five-man panel selected the 46-year-old ahead of Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn of Denmark.

Clarke has won the tournament four times as a player and was a non-playing vice-captain for wins in 2010 and 2012.

He said: "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."

Clarke succeeds Irishman Paul McGinley, who led Europe to a five-point victory over the USA at Gleneagles in 2014.

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The moment Europe retained the Ryder Cup

The winner of the 2011 Open Championship at Royal St George's has lost just once in the seven times he has been involved in the Ryder Cup, the defeat at Brookline in 1999.

After a quartet of victories as a player - in 1997, 2002, 2004 and 2006 - Clarke helped successive captains Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal achieve success.

Clarke said: "I am lucky to have played and worked under some fantastic captains in my seven Ryder Cups to date and 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."

The memorable win under Olazabal in 2012 became known as the Miracle of Medina after Europe fought back from 10-6 down going into the final day's singles to win 14½-13½ on US soil.

BBC chief sports writer Tom Fordyce on Clarke:
"A leader chosen by those serving under him is sometimes unable to make the tough decisions required. Where does friendship end and authority begin? Clarke is likely to be able to judge as well as anyone can." Read more.

Montgomerie and Olazabal were both on the European Tour's five-man selection panel, which also included McGinley, tour chief executive George O'Grady and former Ryder Cup player David Howell.

Montgomerie said the decision to appoint Clarke had been unanimous, adding on Sky Sports News: "We have selected a captain that I am convinced will retain the Ryder Cup and bring it home.

"It's an unenviable task; America want it back badly and he will have all our support."

Darren Clarke
Clarke had a 100% record in the 2006 Ryder Cup with three wins from his three matches

Clarke, who first played in the Ryder Cup under Seve Ballesteros and has won 11½ points from his 20 matches in the tournament, was not involved in the 2014 win under McGinley after running against him for the captaincy.

He later withdrew from the race but his relationship with former room-mate McGinley reportedly cooled after he appeared to back Montgomerie to lead Europe at Gleneagles.

The Ulsterman headed into this vote with the support of high-profile players such as four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, countryman and 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell and former world number one Lee Westwood.

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Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy praised the selection of Clarke as Ryder Cup captain last week, before the official announcement

He is competing in the Dimension Data Pro-Am in South Africa this week - along with eldest son Tyrone - but has struggled with his game in recent seasons.

In contrast, Jimenez is still competing on the European Tour at the age of 51 and has also been winning titles on the Seniors Tour.

Bjorn, meanwhile, qualified to play at Gleneagles and finished on the winning team for a third time in three appearances.

Davis Love III, 50, is expected to be confirmed as captain of the United States Ryder Cup team on 24 February, four years after he led the side at Medina.

Ryder Cup records
Darren ClarkeMiguel Angel JimenezThomas Bjorn
Player appearances543
Wins as player423
Points11½
Vice-captain appearances233
Wins as vice-captain233

Iain Carter analysis

"Darren Clarke has an immense passion for the Ryder Cup and is the right man for the job in 2016. Most importantly, he was the top choice of Europe's leading players, including world number one Rory McIlroy.

Clarke is a respected major champion who possesses an excellent record in the Ryder Cup as both a player and vice-captain. The Ulsterman deserves the opportunity to lead his continent. In his younger days he could be an immature character but he has grown into one of the tour's elder statesmen.

He should be capable of dealing with the huge media responsibilities that go with the job. It also helps that he has always been a popular figure in the United States and is a firm friend of likely American skipper Davis Love III."

Peter Alliss, BBC golf commentator

"Clarke had a few good people lobbying for him. I was looking though the bits and pieces the other day and I thought how very different from when I played and there was a committee - we never had small committees, there were about 10 old boys - and they chose the captain and that was it.

There was no discussion about it. Over the last 10 goes, maybe a bit less, there has been lobbying. They seem to go out and say 'we want so and so'. Player power, it's crept in to every game and it's just something that is part of modern day life.

If he wins he will be a hero and if he loses, well [then you're] the wrong choice, aren't you? I wish him well."

Three-time Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher

"I'm told the first person he is going to speak to is Paul McGinley to set up a dinner and seek his advice on how he did it at Gleneagles.

"It certainly wasn't a difficult decision for the selectors. It's a very good appointment. He is popular, he is still playing, he is experienced, he has played in many Ryder Cups and been pretty victorious in them.

"One thing about the European captaincy it seems to me is that it's a consensus. That's where our captain has a big advantage over the American captain at the moment. The American captains are still arguing about who should be captain."

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