Golf: Bjorn names Westwood, Harrington, McDowell and Donald as Ryder Cup vice-captains

England's Lee Westwood hits his tee shot on the second hole during the third round of the Houston Open on March 31, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Europe captain Thomas Bjorn on Tuesday (May 22) 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 past 10 golfing 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.

Bjorn, who had already selected Sweden's Robert Karlsson as a vice-captain, said his deputies were all strong characters but each would bring something different to the team.

"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 the golf course at Le Golf National too," he said at Wentworth, ahead of this week's PGA Championship.

"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."

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

"I am honoured to have been selected by Thomas to be one of what I think is a pretty impressive quintet of vice-captains," said Westwood.

"Of course, my ideal scenario is that I hit a hot streak of form over the summer and force my way in to the team but, quite honestly, as long as I am able to contribute to the 2018 European team in some way, I am going to be happy."

Three-time Major winner Harrington said: "We are all united in the mission of reclaiming the Ryder Cup in Paris and I know Thomas has a very strong strategy in place that will give us absolutely the best possible chance to do this."

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's 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.

The qualification campaign for the 2018 European Team concludes at the Made in Denmark tournament at Bjorn's home Silkeborg club on Sept 2.

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