Westwood, Harrington, McDowell and Donald named as Ryder Cup vice-captains

Thomas Bjorn captains Europe
Thomas Bjorn captains Europe

European captain Thomas Bjorn has named Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Luke Donald as vice-captains for this year's Ryder Cup against the United States.

Westwood has played in the last 10 contests since making his debut in 1997 and was on the winning side seven times, while Harrington was vice-captain to Paul McGinley in 2014 and Darren Clarke in 2016.

McDowell, who claimed the winning point at Celtic Manor in 2010, and Donald will make their debuts in the backroom staff at Le Golf National in Paris as Europe seek to regain the trophy following defeat at Hazeltine two years ago.

The quartet could still qualify for the biennial contest which takes place from September 28-30, but Westwood (117th) is the only player currently ranked inside the world's top 200.

Westwood and Harrington have also expressed an interest in the captaincy and could be rivals to succeed Bjorn and lead Europe in the 2020 contest at Whistling Straits.

Bjorn had already selected Sweden's Robert Karlsson as a vice-captain, while opposite number Jim Furyk has named Davis Love, Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker as assistants, although Woods has stated his intention to play on the team as well.

Westwood said: "Obviously I've been on 10 Ryder Cup sides, but never been involved with the role behind the scenes.

"So when Thomas asked me to take that role I was obviously delighted and jumped at the chance. Myself and Thomas have known each other many years and anything I can do to have a bit of input and help, I will gladly do, and it will be nice to see him take on his role as captain and support him as much as I can."

Asked if he had mixed feelings at not being involved as a player, Westwood added: "No, not really. I'm of an age now where my chances of making the team go down quite significantly, and it's something that I've always been interested in, having played so many, but never been on the other side of it and seeing what goes on.

"Playing in a Ryder Cup is very special. But to be involved with it is very special as well and something I want to do.

"Thomas has pulled together a good team here with a lot of knowledge and experience and hopefully at the right times we can give the right words to somebody less experienced than us that might be playing their first one."

McDowell said: "It's my first time being involved in the back-room staff for the Ryder Cup. I've a huge amount of respect for Thomas and all he's accomplished in his career and I'm glad to have the opportunity to help Team Europe stop the US momentum.

"I'm excited to take on a slightly different view of things and help the 12 players be as ready as they can to regain this trophy."

Donald added: "I've been in constant conversation with Thomas, making it clear I'd like to be involved in any way I can to help Team Europe get the cup back. We're here for the Ryder Cup and I'm really excited to help in any way I can."

Harrington is the only vice-captain with previous experience of the role, but Donald has never tasted defeat in four appearances as a player and McDowell secured the winning point at Celtic Manor in 2010, as well as winning the French Open twice at this year's venue.

"All five are widely respected throughout the game, are all current players who are well known to the players who will be in our team come September and they also all possess a knowledge and understanding of what to expect from Le Golf National," Bjorn said.

"You only need to look at the record books to see that their Ryder Cup pedigree speaks for itself. Each of them has played both home and away so they are well versed in the contest and know how to handle the special and unique atmosphere.

"They all possess strong personalities but each of them will also bring something different to the team, giving us great balance. They have forthright opinions which is vital under the spotlight of a Ryder Cup week and can only help our cause as we try and regain the trophy."

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