Miguel Angel Jimenez set to challenge Darren Clarke for Ryder Cup captaincy

Darren Clarke seems far from a certainty for the 2016 Ryder Cup captaincy vote after Miguel Angel Jimenez refuted claims in a Spanish newspaper that he was not interested in leading the European team.

The pony-tailed Malaga-born golfer straightened out what he says was an incorrect English translation ahead of teeing up in this week’s 10th anniversary Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Jimenez was observed chomping on a familiar cigar as he worked on his putting when asked to answer either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the report in the Spanish newspaper that he was not interested in leading Europe at Hazeltine.

“I did not say that I did not want the Ryder Cup captaincy,” he said.

“I would not say that because I want it... (now taking his cigar from his mouth)... with a passion.”

The new-look five-man selection committee, comprising the past three Ryder Cup captains, along with Tour chief executive George O’Grady and players committee member, David Howell will meet at Wentworth after next fortnight’s Dubai Desert Classic to choose a successor to Paul McGinley.

The 2016 captaincy vote is also on the agenda for discussion at next week’s Players Championship meeting in Doha.

Clarke’s leadership thrust has received a serious jolt in the wake of Jimenez’s stance, and with Jimenez seemingly already enjoying two of the five votes.

One would expect Jimenez to receive the vote of Jose Maria Olazabal and possibly Paul McGinley, should McGinley hold any grudges over the push against him to appoint Clarke for the 2014 captaincy.

Double Major-winning Martin Kaymer, who was unaware of Jimenez’s revelation, supports Clarke being offered the role despite confessing he hardly knows the Tyrone man.

“Darren would be the likely choice, I believe, but that doesn’t seem to be a question any more.

“However I don’t know Darren really that well and only through his involvement in the Ryder Cup and whether he’s a good captain or not, I have no idea.

“I do know he’s a nice man and he’s very generous and very helpful in offering advice, so I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be European captain next year, and I hope he does get the position.

“However I really have not been thinking about the 2016 Ryder Cup and I really didn’t know where it was being held until I played in the pro-am this morning and one of the fellows in our group was from Hazeltine (smiling).”

Kaymer is returning to competition in an event he has won three times in the past, and revealed he took up skiing for the first time having spent a week in Italy over the festive break.

And the reigning US Open and Players Championship title holder continued to sing the praise of McGinley, the victorious Gleneagles captain suggesting he was so well organised in leading Europe to victory he must be part German.

“I have played in only three Ryder Cups and I have to say Monty was good, Olazabal was good but Paul was exceptional,” said Kaymer.

“Even nearly four months later if you went looking for negatives, there is none obvious so maybe Paul should be quarter German because for me he was great and that’s why we got along so well.”


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