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Popular Northern Irishman Darren Clarke picked as captain of European team for 2016 Ryder Cup

  • FILE - In this file photo dated Sunday Sept. 24, 2006, European Ryder Cup team player Darren Clarke holds the Ryder Cup trophy after Europe beat the United States to win the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club golf course, in Straffan, Ireland. Darren Clarke has been selected as the captain of the European team for the upcoming 2016 Ryder Cup, the European Tour announced Wednesday Feb. 18, 2015, after receiving overwhelming support from key players for Clarke.  (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours)

    FILE - In this file photo dated Sunday Sept. 24, 2006, European Ryder Cup team player Darren Clarke holds the Ryder Cup trophy after Europe beat the United States to win the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club golf course, in Straffan, Ireland. Darren Clarke has been selected as the captain of the European team for the upcoming 2016 Ryder Cup, the European Tour announced Wednesday Feb. 18, 2015, after receiving overwhelming support from key players for Clarke. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE- In this file photo dated Wednesday July 16, 2014, Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland watches his shot off the 15th tee during a practice round ahead of the British Open Golf championship at the Royal Liverpool golf club, Hoylake, England.  Darren Clarke has been selected as the captain of the European team for the 2016 Ryder Cup, the European Tour announced Wednesday Feb. 18, 2015, after receiving overwhelming support from key players for Clarke. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell, FILE)

    FILE- In this file photo dated Wednesday July 16, 2014, Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland watches his shot off the 15th tee during a practice round ahead of the British Open Golf championship at the Royal Liverpool golf club, Hoylake, England. Darren Clarke has been selected as the captain of the European team for the 2016 Ryder Cup, the European Tour announced Wednesday Feb. 18, 2015, after receiving overwhelming support from key players for Clarke. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell, FILE)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE- In this file photo dated Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, Darren Clarke, of Northern Ireland, during a practice round for the PGA Championship golf tournament at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. USA.  Darren Clarke has been selected as the captain of the European team for the 2016 Ryder Cup, the European Tour announced Wednesday Feb. 18, 2015, after receiving overwhelming support from key players for Clarke.  (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, FILE)

    FILE- In this file photo dated Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, Darren Clarke, of Northern Ireland, during a practice round for the PGA Championship golf tournament at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. USA. Darren Clarke has been selected as the captain of the European team for the 2016 Ryder Cup, the European Tour announced Wednesday Feb. 18, 2015, after receiving overwhelming support from key players for Clarke. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, FILE)  (The Associated Press)

Darren Clarke has been selected as the captain of the European team for the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine.

The European Tour announced its decision on Wednesday following a meeting of a five-man selection panel, which included the last three captains — Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal and Paul McGinley.

Top-ranked Rory McIlroy and stalwarts of the European team like Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell have backed Clarke, who won the British Open in 2011 and played on four winning teams in the Ryder Cup. He was vice captain in 2010 and '12.

Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn were also candidates for the role.

Europe will defend the cup after beating the U.S. at Gleneagles in September.