Clarke a lock for next Ryder Cup captain despite Jimenez claim

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Northern Ireland duo Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy stole most of the headlines as Europe romped to their fifth successive home Ryder Cup win by 16½-11½, and it seems increasingly likely the pair will be led by compatriot Darren Clarke in two years time at Hazeltine National.

Paul McGinley’s side’s utterly dominant showing at Gleneagles sees Europe priced up as 10/11 favourites to triumph for the ninth time in 11 renewals when the Ryder Cup roadshow rolls into Minnesota, with the hosts hard to fancy at 11/10 and the draw 10/1.

Six-time European team member Clarke is the 1/3 favourite to lead the visitors, with a number of media sources claiming the Dungannon man will edge a five-way vote between three former captains, a players’ representative and European Tour chief executive George O’Grady.

Miguel Angel Jimenez is joint-second favourite in the betting at 6/1, alongside Thomas Bjorn (who is thought to be the players’ representative), while news.ladbrokes see the Spaniard’s 2014 co-captain Padraig Harrington as the only other viable option at 12/1.

Jimenez will have felt he was in with a strong shout of following countrymen Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, who both skippered the continent to victories, into the captain’s golf buggy, especially after leading a strong European team to a creditable draw in last year’s EurAsia Cup.

However, it seems Clarke’s measured analysis during the Scotland spectacle may have trumped cigar-chomping Jimenez’s somewhat comical on-course presence at Gleneagles, where the rotund 50-year-old soaked up the atmosphere by playing to the noisy crowd with feigned innocence.

It has been reported that McGinley and Olazabal will vote for Jimenez, while O’Grady and Colin Montgomerie back Clarke.

Bjorn is expected to have the final say from the players’ side. The Dane is a good friend of Clarke’s, and an industry-best 1/3 on the 2011 Open champion in this market suggests that’s were Bjorn’s vote will go.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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