Pádraig Harrington says Miguel Angel Jiménez's desire to concentrate on his playing career has made Darren Clarke a "shoo-in" for the European Ryder Cup captaincy in 2016.
Speaking to Matt Adams on Fairways of Life on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, Harrington said: "Darren, I really think he is the man for the job, but I think he’s a shoo-in now because it was nip and tuck between himself and Jiménez, but Jiménez has now given the committee an out.
"It’s easy not to pick because he said he wants to play. It’s a no-brainer. Nobody is going to be upset if they don’t pick him now, because he himself gave them an out.
“I see Darren as a natural choice. He’s been great for Europe over the years. He’s won the Order of Merit [sic]. He’s been great in the Ryder Cup. I think he’ll do a great job.”
Harrington went on to say that Paul McGinley's incredible dedication to the Ryder Cup captaincy has put future European captains under huge pressure.
“He made the captaincy job far harder, because everybody, both European and U.S. captains, they’re going to have to live up to his standard, which was incredible,” Harrington said on the show. “Nobody – all of our good captains – none of them did a job like the way Paul McGinley did. He did the job completely different.
"Our previous captains were I’d say a lot more emotional about what they were doing, and it worked brilliantly, obviously. But going forward it’s going to put a lot of pressure on captains, that, look, if they don’t win, people will say well, you didn’t put the three and a half years of Paul McGinley’s life he put into this Ryder Cup. The last two years of his playing career were really put aside just to be Ryder Cup captain. So he’s put a lot up to every captain going forward."
Harrington has been mentioned as potential Ryder Cup captain in France in 2018 and with Clarke odds on to get the job in 2016, he could be Ireland's third successive captain.
Considering Ireland didn't get its first Ryder Cup captain until 61 years after Harry Bradshaw became the first golfer from the Republic of Ireland to play in the Ryder Cup - Portrush's Fred Daly had already played in 1947, '49 and '51 — it would be an incredible achievement for Irish golf.
The 2016 captain will be chosen in March once the three immediate past captains — McGinley, Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie — have sat down with the European Tour's Chief Executive, George O'Grady and Players Committee nominee David Howell to discuss the option.
The 2016 Ryder Cup will be at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota from September 30 to October 2.