Tiger's Ryder Cup pick huge for US, says Clarke

European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke addressing the media during the 2016 Ryder Cup Captains' Press Conference on Sept 29, 2015.
European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke addressing the media during the 2016 Ryder Cup Captains' Press Conference on Sept 29, 2015. PHOTO: AFP/ GETTY IMAGES

SYDNEY • European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke admitted yesterday that Tiger Woods' selection as a vice-captain for the 2016 edition is "massive" for the United States team, as the Americans try to prise back the coveted trophy.

The 14-time Major winner and seven-time Ryder Cup team member, who is coming off two back operations, was appointed by US captain Davis Love last week, alongside Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Tom Lehman.

Woods has not said when he will return to competitive golf, and could still make the team as a player. Clarke, playing at the Australian Open, said any involvement by Woods made Europe's job harder.

"I think with Tiger, and knowing him as well as I do, he will be massive for the team and he will be involved as he's shown us by accepting Davis' invitation, but then he will also be trying desperately to be playing on the team," he said.

"So, certainly, Tiger's a great addition to Davis' side, whether that be playing or behind the scenes as a vice-captain."

Next year's Ryder Cup will be played from Sept 30 to Oct 2 at Hazeltine in suburban Minneapolis in Minnesota.

The Americans lead the all-time rivalry 25-13 with two drawn but the Europeans have won three in a row, six of the past seven and eight of the past 10.

Clarke said he was in no hurry to name his own vice-captains and will wait until next August.

"Choosing vice-captains is a tricky thing as the European team formula has always been that our vice-captains are prospective captains and guys still playing because those guys are still very, very good players," he said.

"So I am not going to be choosing vice-captains until I know really they are not going to qualify automatically for the team so I don't want to insult anybody."

Former world No. 1 Lee Westwood, also playing in Sydney, has already expressed his interest in helping close friend Clarke, with Dane Thomas Bjorn also seen as in the running as a vice-captain.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2015, with the headline 'Tiger's Ryder Cup pick huge for US, says Clarke'. Print Edition | Subscribe