The matchup of captains for the 2016 Ryder Cup in Minnesota is now set.
Darren Clarke was named the European captain on Wednesday at the European Tour's headquarters in England. Clarke was unanimously voted by a five-person panel, including the last three European Ryder Cup captains, veteran David Howell and outgoing chief executive George O'Grady, to get the gig. Clarke earned the job over the likes of Miguel Angel Jimenez, Clarke's strongest challenger for the job, and Thomas Bjorn, an eventual captain in his own right.
Clarke will face Davis Love III, who will get a chance to avenge his 2012 team's coughing up of a four-point edge on the final day of the matches at Medinah near Chicago. Love, who has been a member of the PGA of America's 11-person Ryder Cup task force, will be officially named captain on Feb. 24 at their headquarters and site that week of the Honda Classic.
The Ulsterman aims to continue an impressive run as a member of Team Europe. Clarke was on five Ryder Cup teams as a player, going 10-7-3 and was only part of one losing team back in 1999. Just weeks after his wife Heather's death in 2006, Clarke won all three matches he played at The K Club in Ireland, including an emotional 3-and-2 singles victory against Zach Johnson. He was vice-captain under both Colin Montgomerie in 2010 and Jose Maria Olazabal in 2012, whose teams also won.
For Europe, Clarke was long seen as a captain and is expected to lead using the lessons learned from his playing and leadership experiences.
“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," Clarke said in a statement.
Clarke, who is the 2011 Open champion, is the first Northern Irishman to captain a Ryder Cup team.