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Popular Clarke picked as European captain for 2016 Ryder Cup

Darren Clarke provided arguably the most emotional story line in the history of the Ryder Cup, and helped forge one of the competition’s most successful partnerships.

And to mark the start of the next chapter in the charismatic, cigar-chomping Northern Irishman’s Ryder Cup story, he was picked as captain of the European team for the 2016 event at Hazeltine.

Overwhelming player support and healthy respect for him on both sides of the Atlantic made Clarke a unanimous choice on Wednesday.

The five-man selection panel included Europe’s last three captains — Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal and Paul McGinley. All three guided the team to victory, in very different ways, to give Clarke a hard act to follow.

“I have big shoes to fill,” said Clarke, the British Open champion in 2011 and one of the most popular figures in golf.

Clarke played for Europe in five straight Ryder Cups from 1997-2006, winning four times. The last of these came at The K Club, where he helped the team to a record-equaling 18

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