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

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.