By Matt Smith
DUBAI (Reuters) - The captain of the European side that will defend the Ryder Cup against the United States in Minnesota in 2016 will be Darren Clarke or Miguel Angel Jimenez, two stalwarts of the team said on Tuesday.
World number two Henrik Stenson and sixth-ranked Sergio Garcia both believe it will be a straight fight between the Northern Irishman and the Spaniard over who replaces 2014 skipper Paul McGinley.
"Most likely we're going to see a race between Darren and Miguel," Stenson told reporters on Tuesday ahead of this week's Dubai Desert Classic.
"That's the beauty of being part of the Tournament Players Committee that no longer votes for it. I don't have to put any thought into it, I just have to wait like everybody else until the result comes out."
The captain used to be decided by the players but it is now down to a five-man panel that includes former skippers McGinley, Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie.
"They have got enough experience between them to come up with a good decision," said Swede Stenson who has played in the biennial team event three times.
"I believe they haven't met yet. They haven't managed to get that meeting together so I don't know when it's scheduled to happen."
Asked if Clarke or Jimenez would be the next captain, Garcia replied: "It looks like that.
"I think those are the two big candidates and I think we are all excited to see how it turns out," added Garcia who has made seven Ryder Cup appearances.
The Dubai Desert Classic, which features world number one Rory McIlroy, starts on Thursday.
(Writing by Tony Jimenez, editing by Ed Osmond)