Darren Clarke was selected as the captain of the European team for the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National in Chaska after receiving overwhelming support from such key players as Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter.

The European Tour announced its decision following a meeting of a five-man selection panel, which included the past three captains: Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal and Paul McGinley.

Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn were also candidates for the role, but Clarke was the unanimous choice, Montgomerie said.

The top-ranked McIlroy and stalwarts of the European team Poulter, Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell had given their backing to Clarke, who played on four winning teams in the Ryder Cup from 1997-2006 and was vice captain in 2010 and '12.

"The Ryder Cup has been a massive part of my life and my career, so to have the chance to lead Europe next year is a huge honor," said Clarke, the first Northern Irishman to be given the captaincy.

Davis Love III will be the captain of the U.S. team.

Women's Tennis

Top seeds take a beating

Five of the top eight seeds, including Venus Williams, made early exits at the Dubai Tennis Championships in the United Arab Emirates.

Second-seeded Petra Kvitova, No. 4 Ana Ivanovic, No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 7 Angelique Kerber also failed to advance to Thursday's quarterfinals.

Kvitova, the reigning Wimbledon champion, lost 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to 13th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro, and Ivanovic fell to 17th-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Radwanska lost to unseeded Garbine Muguruza 6-4, 6-2, and Kerber was ousted by 10th-seeded Flavia Penetta 6-2, 3-6, 6-1. Williams, with three career titles in Dubai, lost 6-4, 6-2 to 11th-seeded Lucie Safarova. Williams looked listless on a humid, 93-degree day but credited her opponent.

"I think she played awesome," Williams said. "There were a couple of games there that I didn't even get my racquet on the ball. What can I say to that?"

Cycling

Armstrong punished for crash

Lance Armstrong pleaded guilty to careless driving for hitting two parked cars with his SUV in Aspen, Colo., a crash for which his girlfriend tried to take the blame, a prosecutor confirmed.

Two other charges, failing to report an accident and speeding too fast for conditions, were dismissed. Court records show Armstrong paid $238.50 to cover court fees and a $150 traffic fine.

Armstrong's girlfriend, Anna Hansen, initially told police she had been driving home from an Aspen Art Museum party Dec. 28 when she lost control of Armstrong's GMC Yukon on icy roads. She said she drove because "Lance had a little bit to drink," according to police reports.

Hansen eventually told detectives Armstrong was driving and retracted her statement about Armstrong being unable to drive because he had been drinking. None of the charges against Armstrong involved driving under the influence.

AROUND THE HORN

College football: Safety Avery Sebastian, who played three seasons at California and was an occasional starter, will play for Notre Dame next season. Sebastian is eligible immediately because he graduated from Cal in December.

College athletics: The NCAA placed West Virginia's athletic department on two years' probation for recruiting violations involving illegal text messages and phone calls in 14 sports. The worst of the infractions was committed by a women's gymnastics assistant coach, and that coach will be prohibited from recruiting for 30 days.

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