Who will replace Darren Clarke as Europe's Ryder Cup captain?

The 2018 captain will lead the team in Paris hoping to regain the trophy

BY Daniel Kelly 12:07 Tuesday 4 October 2016, 12:07 4 Oct 2016

Picture by: David Davies PA Wire/Press Association Images

Darren Clarke's reign as Europe's Ryder Cup captain ended on Sunday night, when he left the stage in Hazeltine at the end of the closing ceremony.

The former Open champion, saw his team lose 17-11, which was Europe's heaviest loss since 1981. Despite being seen as an effective captain, Clarke's Europe performed worse that Nick Faldo's 2008 team. Faldo is widely regarded as the worst European captain in recent memory.

Clarke along with Paul McGinley and Jose Maria Olazabal will come together as the three previous Ryder Cup captains to pick the next captain, along with members of the European Tour. Who are the contenders though to lead the team at Le Golf National?

Padraig Harrington

Could Ireland have a third Ryder Cup captain in a row? The Dubliner was the outstanding European golfer of the last decade, winning three majors and was a vice-captain to both Clarke and McGinley. He last played for Europe in 2010 and has competed in six Ryder Cups.

Thomas Bjorn

Bjorn played in Gleneagles in 2014 and is the favourite for the position. The Danish golfer may become the first continental captain since 2012, and only the fourth overall, as the event takes place in continental Europe for only the second time. Bjorn is one of the most respected players on the European Tour. He has played in three Ryder Cups and has been a vice-captain on a further three occasions including 2016.

Paul Lawrie

The unassuming Scottish star got his first taste of vice-captaincy last week, when he worked under Clarke at Hazeltine. A two-time Ryder Cup player, Lawrie had an excellent record, winning 4.5 points out of a possible eight in 1999 and 2012.

Miguel Angel Jimenez

"The most interesting man in golf" would be a popular choice to become captain, but his lack of English fluency may be seen as a disadvantage. The 52-year-old began his Ryder Cup career in 1997 as a vice-captain, before playing in four Ryder Cups, the most recent in 2010. The Spaniard has also been a vice-captain in 2012 and 2014.

Jean van de Velde

Could a Frenchman lead the European team in France? If the European Tour want a Frenchman in charge, van de Velde is their main option. The 50-year-old was part of the 1999 team. He only played in one match, losing to Davis Love III. If not picked as captain, van de Velde could be used as an assistant.


Coming off the back of a loss, the European Tour may want to change the way they pick the captaincy. In 2010, Colin Montgomerie was captain, when many expected him to take the role in 2014. Players like Lee Westwood, or even Ian Poulter are outside candidates to be thrust into the role, maybe earlier than they had hoped.

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