Darren Clarke named Europe's Ryder Cup captain for 2016 battle

    Story highlights

    • Darren Clarke named European Ryder Cup captain for the 2016 installment
    • Northern Irishman beat competition from Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn
    • Clarke won four out of five Ryder Cups as a player and was vice captain in 2010 and 2012

    (CNN)Darren Clarke is Europe's new Ryder Cup captain.

    The 46-year-old has been tasked with maintaining the continent's dominance in golf's biennial battle with the United States, Europe having won six of the last seven installments.
      Clarke played in five successive Ryder Cups between 1997 and 2006, losing only once, and has been part of winning teams as a vice captain in 2010 and 2012.
      The Northern Irishman was chosen ahead of Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, who has featured in four Ryder Cups as a player, winning two. He has been vice captain three times, winning all of them.
      "I am naturally extremely proud to be selected as European Ryder Cup captain for 2016," Clarke told the European Tour's official website.
      "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 honor.
      "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."
      Should Clarke deliver victory at Minnesota next year it'll be the first time either team has won four successive Ryder Cups since the rules were changed to allow European golfers to take part in 1979.
      The United States last enjoyed success under Paul Azinger in 2008 at Valhalla but since then, Europe has dominated.
      After regaining the trophy at Celtic Manor in Wales in 2010, Europe pulled off an incredible comeback two years later in Chicago, winning 14½ to 13½ having trailed 10-6 going into Sunday's singles.
      Last time out, Paul McGinley led Europe to a commanding 16½ - 11½ victory at Gleneagles in Scotland, leading to yet more soul searching in the U.S. ranks.
      It is expected to ask Davis Love III to reprise his role as captain next week. The 50-year-old was in charge during that 2012 comeback, now known as the "Miracle of Medinah."
      Clarke enjoyed the support of many high profile European players, with world No. 1 Rory McIlroy part of a group that included Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Grame McDowell.
      The 2011 British Open champion was selected by a five-man panel that included former captains Paul McGinley, Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie.
      European Tour chief executive George O'Grady, who was part of the selection panel, said: "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.
      "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's first Ryder Cup appearance as a player was in 1997 when Europe defeated the United States by a score of 14½ to 13½ at Valderrama in Spain under the captaincy of the late, great Seve Ballesteros.
      The 1999 installment was the only time Clarke has ever been on the losing side in the competition, the United States overturning a 10-6 deficit to win an ill tempered Ryder Cup known as the "Battle of Brookline."
      Victories in 2002 and 2004 followed but Clarke is probably best remembered for the 2006 Ryder Cup when he played just six weeks after his first wife Heather lost her battle with cancer.
      He won three points out of three in an emotional occasion at the K Club in Dublin as Europe routed the United States by a nine-point margin.
      Since then Clarke has twice been vice captain, in 2010 and 2012, winning on both occasions.
      He is a long standing player on the European Tour with 14 victories and has one major title to his name -- the British Open in 2011.