Darren Clarke: European Ryder Cup captain

The popular Northern Irishman will lead the European team at Hazeltine

2016 European Ryder Cup captain
Darren Clarke will lead the European Ryder Cup team at Hazeltine in 2016
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Darren Clarke has been announced as 2016 European Ryder Cup captain

Darren Clarke has been announced as 2016 European Ryder Cup captain.

A five-strong selection committee - comprised of Paul McGinley, Jose Maria Olazabal, Colin Montgomerie, European Tour chief executive George O'Grady and tournament players' committee representative David Howell - revealed its decision at Wentworth on Wednesday.

The Ulsterman will be tasked with leading his continent into battle at Hazeltine as team Europe bids for a fourth consecutive victory over the United States.

Related: pictorial history of Darren Clarke in the Ryder Cup

The beleaguered Americans - who formed a task force last year in an attempt to fix their shocking recent record - have won only two Ryder Cups since 1999.

"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," said Clarke.

“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 victory at Hazeltine next year."

Clarke was widely tipped to be the next captain and received support from at least eight of the 2014 European team before the committee made its selection.

It developed into a two-horse race between him and evergreen Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez in the lead-up to the the announcement, but the 51-year-old's limited English and inferior Ryder Cup playing record ultimately counted against him.

"We are delighted to announce that Darren has accepted the invitation from the panel to captain Europe at The 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National," said O'Grady, speaking on behalf of the panel.

“Darren has an impressive Ryder Cup pedigree having featured five times as a player and twice as a vice captain, so he has a strong understanding of the attributes required to be a successful captain.

"He is also a popular figure among the players and has both the passion and knowledge to lead Europe in the quest for a record fourth consecutive Ryder Cup victory."

Clarke made his Ryder Cup debut in 1997 and represented Europe again in 1999, 2002, 2004 and 2006, just months after the death of his wife, Heather.

Indeed, scenes of the Northern Irishman saluting the crowd with tears streaming down his face after his singles victory over Zach Johnson at the K Club will live long in the memory.

In his five Ryder Cup appearances, Clarke was only on the losing side once (1999 at Brookline).

He boasts a 10-7-3 record with a win percentage of 57.5% - one of the best since Europeans joined players from Great Britain and Ireland for the 1979 contest.

The 2016 European Ryder Cup captain was also a vice-captain at the 2010 and 2012 Ryder Cups.