Proud Clarke will protect ‘true spirit’ of Ryder Cup in USA

Darren Clarke expressed his delight at getting the Ryder Cup captaincy as he looked forward to leading Europe’s bid for an unprecedented fourth victory in succession.

European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke holds the Ryder Cup trophy during Monday's media day (Picture: John Walton/PA Wire).

Clarke will captain the side at Hazeltine in 2016, where his opposite number will be good friend Davis Love, who has been given a second chance to lead the United States after being on the wrong end of the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in 2012.

World No 1 Rory McIlroy often stated that he felt Clarke would be the ideal candidate to be captain in America and the former Open champion could not agree more.

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“The highest honour the European Tour can bestow on any of its members is the Ryder Cup captaincy, so imagine my sense of joy, pride and in some ways relief when the call came through from Ryder Cup director Richard Hills inviting me to lead Europe into the 2016 match against the USA,” Clarke said yesterday.

“The more I played in the Ryder Cup, the more I wanted to become captain and, to be honest, if I could have chosen where and when, then it would have been America and now.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed playing there and I have always felt very welcome, so I am particularly delighted that everything I wanted has come to fruition.

“Europe has a chance to make history by winning the Ryder Cup for the fourth time in succession and I am absolutely thrilled to have that opportunity. But, whatever happens, I will also do everything in my power to ensure the good name of the game and the true spirit of this incredible match is carried forward.

“What made this honour even more amazing is that Davis Love has been elected American captain. We have been very good friends ever since I first started playing in America and I have the utmost respect for him as both a player and a person.

“It won’t stop me doing everything I possibly can to ensure the European team beats his, but whatever the result we will remain friends first and foremost.”

Europe have won eight of the last 10 biennial contests and six of the last seven, although the victories in 2010 and 2012 were by a single point and the latter came when Jose Maria Olazabal’s side overturned a 10-4 deficit in Chicago.

Paul McGinley captained the side to a five-point win at Gleneagles in 2014, the same margin by which the United States claimed their last win at Valhalla back in 2008.

An additional golden band has been added to the base of the Ryder Cup trophy to accommodate the results of future matches.