Ryder Cup: Thomas Bjorn’s vice-captains react to their appointment

Two of the worst kept secrets in golf were revealed yesterday when Ryder Cup veterans Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington were confirmed as Thomas Bjorn’s Team Europe Vice Captains, joining Robert Karlsson who was named last year. But more of a surprise came in the revelation that Graeme McDowell and Luke Donald will complete the quintet of assistants chosen to try to help Bjorn in his quest to try to wrest the Cup back from the hands of the USA at Le Golf National this September.

Each of the five has vast experience in The Matches over the years and Bjorn is hopeful that their impressive resumes will prove vital as he plots Europe’s French renaissance.

BJORN’S VISION

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“When you look at it statistically whether individually on The Ryder Cup and what they have achieved; it is a really experienced group but for me it was a question of a lot of different things,” said the Dane. “It is important to look at what they can bring to me from now till the end of the tournament and how I can communicate with them. They have the same values as me and we are good friends.

“In the end it is not about my captaincy and it is not about their vice-captaincy, it is about their moment to go out and to perform and we have to create the right environment. We know what we are up against an extremely strong USA side, so we have to pull everything together and do our best to win The Ryder Cup back.”

 

A MIRACLE IN PARIS?

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England’s Donald has been a winner in all four of his Ryder Cup appearances as a player and was picked by captain Jose Maria Olazabal as the first player out of the trenches to lead Europe’s sensational final day fightback in Medinah six years ago.

 

Vice captains confirmed 🇪🇺 pic.twitter.com/s7dXU2m0Qc

“The 2012 Ryder Cup duel with Bubba Watson was a big moment for me,” said the seven-time European Tour winner. “To be entrusted to go as number one as we were obviously being beaten quite badly at that point. But to be a big part of turning the tie over and achieve the “Miracle at Medinah” is something that I will cherish for a long time. There will be someone that Thomas will rely on to go as number 1 and hopefully we won’t have such a margin to overcome. It will be fun to be a vice-captain and see it from a different side.”

HARRINGTON’S THE LUCKY CHARM

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Three-time Major championship winner Harrington knows the ins and outs of the Ryder Cup better than most having been a vice-captain on two previous occasions and featured as a player six times. He will be looking to pass his knowledge to the team and motivate the rookies.

“It is always great to be involved in the Ryder Cup, nothing else is like it,” said Harrington. “I love being a player but to be a vice-captain is the next best thing. It is a tough job, there is a lot to do behind the scenes during the week. So hopefully I and the other four vice-captains are there to support Thomas, he seems to be going about things the right way at this stage but as we know there are a lot of decisions to be made during the tournament itself and we are there to help him with those decisions.”

“We as an experienced group want to encourage the players instead of intimidating them and we want to make them feel comfortable so that they can play well and thrive under pressure.”

MCDOWELL READY TO INSPIRE

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McDowell proved to be instrumental in Europe’s dramatic 2010 Ryder Cup victory, defeating Hunter Mahan in the last of the 12 singles matches and sinking the winning putt to give the home team a 14½ to 13½ victory over a stubborn USA team at Celtic Manor.

“It is really exciting and a huge honour to be a part if the team,” said the Northern Irishman. “We have a huge vast of experience and each one of us will bring something to the table. I am very passionate about the Ryder Cup and I have a lot of fond memories in it. Thomas is a great friend and has a huge amount of respect for what he has achieved in the game and to be part of the stuff is a special thing. I believe we can make a successful run to get The Ryder Cup back.

“I remember that last match at Celtic Manor to be nerve-wracking! It was the most daunting experience I have ever been through. But because of an experience like that, I feel like I can bring something to the team. We as vice-captains are obliged to help the players with confidence, put an arm around the rookies and get them ready.”

WESTWOOD BELIEVES IN ROOKIE’S ABILITY

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Westwood, who has lifted The Ryder Cup on seven occasions, revealed his hope that his experience, as well as his social skills, prove a useful asset to Bjorn in Paris.

“I am very committed to being a vice-captain and I was delighted when Thomas called me. I played under 10 different captains and I know what it takes for the team to perform well.  I am a good people person so I shouldn’t have a problem getting through to the players.”