Fresh from being named Europe’s captain for The 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club, Darren Clarke has spoken of his pride at being chosen to lead his continent in Minnesota.
The 46 year old former Open Champion was chosen by a five-man selection panel that included the last three Ryder Cup captains – Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal – as well as David Howell, representing the Tournament Players’ Committee, and European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady.
Clarke has represented Europe on four occasions, most recently at The K Club in 2006. He has also experienced The Ryder Cup cauldron away from the theatre of play, having twice been named a vice captain, in both 2010 and 2012.
Darren is currently in South Africa ahead of this week’s Dimension Data Pro-Am on the Sunshine Tour, where the 14-time European Tour winner was understandably pleased.
“It is a huge privilege to follow in the steps of so many great European captains, and I just hope I can do as good a job as they have all done in the past,” said Clarke. “Especially of late, Europe have been performing unbelievably well, and I hope the team that goes to Hazeltine can do exactly the same again.
“The game has been good to me, very good to me. I’ve had my ups and I’ve had my downs, but in general it’s been very good to me. The Ryder Cup has been a huge part of my life and my golfing career, lots of them for different reasons, and none more so than The K Club when I had a very emotional one.
“But now to be captain of the European team is a huge honour that ranks up there with anything I’ve achieved in the professional game. It’s right up at the very top.
“I think it’s the tradition, the history behind it and the format, as anybody can beat anybody in match play. That’s the way it is, we’ve seen in many Ryder Cups that World Rankings don’t count for an awful lot when it comes to a Ryder Cup.
“A lot of people came out in support of me, which again is very flattering. Most of the guys have been on the previous team, and they are nearly all good friends anyway. So they have known me and I’ve played with them for many years on Tour, maybe Rory not so many years, but I’ve known him for a long time.
“I know all the guys really well, and I’d like to consider them all friends of mine, so that makes things a little bit easier. But certainly to have them coming out and supporting me was very special.
“Of course I’m excited, I would be crazy not to be. I’m really excited and I’m very proud and very humbled to be chosen as Ryder Cup captain, and I’ll endeavour to do the best I possibly can for the benefit of the European Team.”
The next instalment of The Ryder Cup will take place from September 27-October 2, 2016.