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Jimenez still a rival to Clarke in Ryder Cup skipper race

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Miguel Angel Jimenez is interested in succeeding Paul McGinley as captain of Europe's Ryder cup team

Miguel Angel Jimenez is interested in succeeding Paul McGinley as captain of Europe's Ryder cup team

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Miguel Angel Jimenez is interested in succeeding Paul McGinley as captain of Europe's Ryder cup team

The Mechanic, Miguel Angel Jimenez, could still throw a spanner into the works for Darren Clarke's Ryder Cup captaincy bid.

Clarke looked certain to stroll unopposed into command of the European team at Hazeltine in 2016 when Jimenez appeared to rule himself out of the job in an interview with a golf magazine in his native Spain.

Yet the 51-year-old firmly refuted this suggestion yesterday during a momentary pause in his preparation for the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship.

Jimenez was lighting one of his trademark Cuban cigars on the practice green when he was asked straight out if he was interested in succeeding Gleneagles maestro Paul McGinley as skipper.

"Yes," he said, taking a pull on the cigar before adding emphatically: "I want it with a passion!"

No further words were necessary from Jimenez, who made his fourth and most recent Ryder Cup appearance as a player in 2010 and was one of McGinley's 'Famous Five' vice-captains last September.

A quotation attributed to Jimenez in the magazine suggested that his determination to continue his record-breaking, tournament-winning feats on the European circuit might preclude him from taking the job.

Deteriorate

"I see myself in the mix (for the 2016 captaincy)," Jimenez reputedly said. "But what happens is that if you dedicate yourself to being captain, your game is possibly going to deteriorate because there is so much to do. And I want to compete. So, I do (want to be captain) and I don't. . ."

With Clarke already installed as a clear favourite to become Europe's second Irish captain in succession, these remarks were widely interpreted as a graceful capitulation by the Spaniard.

However, Jimenez is clearly determined to leave the decision in the hands of the five-man committee, made up of the three most recent skippers - McGinley, Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie - plus Tour chief executive George O'Grady and tournament committee nominee David Howell.

Though the captaincy for 2016 is on the agenda for next Tuesday's meeting of the ruling Tournament Committee in Qatar, the selection process is unlikely to be completed until next month at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Rickie Fowler (26), a member of the 11-man 'Ryder Cup Task Force' established in the US following their eighth defeat in 10 matches, revealed in Abu Dhabi that he'd "love to play for Freddie Couples" at the Ryder Cup.

Irish Independent