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New European Ryder Cup captain may be announced next week

Bookmakers list 2011 British Open champion Darren Clarke as the overwhelming favourite for the job.

FILE: Team Europe captain Paul McGinley of Ireland is sprayed with champagne as he holds the trophy after his team retained the Ryder Cup on the final day of the Ryder Cup golf tournament. Picture: AFP.

LONDON - Paul McGinley's successor as European Ryder Cup captain could be announced next Wednesday, with Northern Irishman Darren Clarke and Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain leading the chase for the coveted role.

The European Tour told Reuters on Thursday that the five-man selection panel would be holding a meeting on 18 February to decide the next skipper.

McGinley is one of the members of the panel along with 2010 captain Colin Montgomerie, 2012 skipper Jose Maria Olazabal, European Tour chief executive George O'Grady and former Ryder Cup player David Howell.

The bookmakers list 2011 British Open champion Clarke as the overwhelming favourite for the job, with Jimenez appearing to be his only rival.

World number two Henrik Stenson and seventh-ranked Sergio Garcia, two stalwarts of the European team, believe it is a two-horse race.

"Most likely we're going to see a race between Darren and Miguel," said Swede Stenson at last month's Dubai Desert Classic.

"I think those are the two big candidates and I think we are all excited to see how it turns out," added Spaniard Garcia at the same tournament.

Europe, who beat the United States in the biennial team event for the eighth time in 10 editions in Scotland in September, defend the trophy at Hazeltine, Minnesota in 2016.

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