Howell to help decide 2016 European Ryder Cup captain

David Howell during the Open at Hoylake this year. Picture Fran Caffrey

Two-time Ryder Cup player David Howell has been named as the tournament players' representative on the five-man panel which will select the European Ryder Cup captain for the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minnesota.

Whether this is good news for Darren Clarke, his former stablemate under Chubby Chandler at ISM and a Ryder Cup team mate in 2004 and 2006, remains to be seen.

Now managed by Octagon Golf, which also looks after Matt Baldwin, Chris Wood, Mark Calcavecchia, Hank Haney and Marc Warren as well as Golf Channel regulars Michael Breed and Geoff Shackelford, 39-year old Howell was nominated by the European Tour’s Tournament Committee at their meeting on Tuesday night in Portugal.

Joining Howell on the panel will be the three previous European Ryder Cup captains – McGinley himself, José María Olazábal and Colin Montgomerie – alongside the Chief Executive of the European Tour, George O’Grady.

It was assumed that Thomas Bjorn as chairman of the Tournament Committee would be the players' nominee but with an obvious conflict of interest given that he is a future captaincy candidate, Howell has been given the nod.

The Dane, 43, said after the Ryder Cup two weeks ago that he is still keen to play but in taking himself out of the process to choose the 2016 skipper, there can be no question of old favours being repaid when Olazabal, McGinley and the new skipper sit down with O'Grady and the players' nominee to pick the man to captain Europe in Paris in 2018.

The guessing game of who will vote for whom this time has already begun with some hazarding that Olazábal will automatically go for his compatriot Miguel Angel Jiménez and Montgomerie for Clarke. 

McGinley has said he will canvas all potential members of the 2014 team for their views on who they would like to see lead the team in the US though Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy have all made the case for Clarke — their former stablemate.

Howell had been tipped as one of McGinley's potential vice-captains for Gleneagles but ended up commentating for Sky Sports along with Montgomerie and Clarke.

This will be the third process used to select The Ryder Cup captain since players from Continental Europe joined the fold for the 1979 contest, under the captaincy of John Jacobs, at The Greenbrier in West Virginia.

From then until 1997, when the late Seve Ballesteros led Europe in his homeland at Club de Golf Valderrama, the European Ryder Cup Captain was chosen by the Ryder Cup Committee, who selected Jacobs again in 1981, Tony Jacklin in 1983, 1985, 1987 and 1989, and Bernard Gallacher in 1991, 1993 and 1995.

However, in 1999, Mark James was the first European captain to be nominated by the European Tour’s Tournament Committee and ratified by the Ryder Cup Board, a process which went on to select Sam Torrance (2002), Bernhard Langer (2004), Ian Woosnam (2006), Sir Nick Faldo (2008), Montgomerie (2010), Olazábal (2012) and McGinley (2014).

It is expected that the decision on the 2016 captain will be made in the early part of 2015.