Northern Irishman Darren Clarke was named as Europe’s 2016 Ryder Cup captain Wednesday.
A five-man selection panel including Europe’s last three captains selected the 46-year-old over Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn.
Having featured in seven Ryder Cups, five times as a player and twice as a vice-captain, his popularity with players and fans alike made Clarke a unanimous choice.
“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.
The 2011 British Open champion made his debut in 1997 at Valderrama and has only lost once during the seven times he has been involved with the Ryder Cup when the US won in 1999 at Brookline.
After his success as a player, Clarke helped captains Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal claim victory.
“I am lucky to have played and worked under some fantastic captains in my seven Ryder Cups to date,” he said. “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.“
Although a string of victories in 2002 and 2004 followed after Europe’s loss in 1999, Clarke is perhaps best remembered for the 2006 Ryder Cup when he played six weeks after his wife Heather’s death from cancer.
Playing through his grief, he won all three of his matches.
At Hazeltine, Clarke will most likely go head-to-head with Davis Love III who is thought to be appointed as the US captain.
Clarke is expected to go for five vice-captains as previous captain Paul McGinely did in 2014 at Gleneagles, although McGinely has said he would not accept a role if asked.