Darren Clarke and Fred Couples to lead sports icons at Jumeirah Golf Estates cup

A host of high-profile names from the world of sport will be in Dubai for the inaugural Icons Cup, at Jumeirah Golf Estates’ from April 22-24.

Darren Clarke, right, was named Europe's Ruder Cup captain last week, and will get some first-hand experience as a captain at the Icons Cup in Dubai in April. Luke Walker / Getty Images
Powered by automated translation

Announced last week as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain for next year’s battle with the United States, Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke probably envisaged a steady process of building bonds, studying statistics and tuning tactics ahead of the showdown at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

The newly anointed skipper’s leadership qualities face a stern examination rather sooner than anticipated, though, and not in Chaska, Minnesota, where Europe will seek to once again retain the Samuel Ryder trophy.

Clarke gets his first outing as a captain at the inaugural Icons Cup, a two-day, match-play team competition to take place at Dubai’s Jumeirah Golf Estates’ from April 22-24.

Clarke’s Rest of the World (ROTW) side tackle an American team led by Fred Couples, the 1992 Masters champion.

A look at the names already committed in Dubai and the event’s title becomes clear: this week, the ROTW announced Shane Warne, Brian Lara, Brian O’Driscoll, George Gregan, Andriy Shevchenko and Luis Figo as team members.

The identity of their US rivals will be confirmed on March 3.

“It’ll be really interesting to see how these great sportsmen react to the unique pressures of team golf,” said Clarke, a five-time Ryder Cup player. “Collectively they’ve won scores of trophies, titles, medals and the like, but pushing them to find their top form on the course will be a fun challenge.”

Couples, who this week missed out on the 2016 US Ryder Cup captaincy, said: “I’ve participated in some truly remarkable sporting events, as a competitor and a captain. While those experiences have been tremendous, the Icons Cup will be something totally new for me.”

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE