x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Jose Maria Olazabal turns to the veterans for Ryder Cup vice-captains

Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley awill serve as an 'extra' set of eyes to European Ryder captain Jose Maria Olazabal.

Jose Maria Olazabal has named Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, above, as a vice-captain along with Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke to the European Ryder Cup team.
Jose Maria Olazabal has named Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, above, as a vice-captain along with Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke to the European Ryder Cup team.

Europe's Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal has named the experienced trio of Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley as three of his four vice-captains for next month's title defence against the United States.

Olazabal will announce his final vice-captain as well as his two wild card player selections on August 27 for the 12-man team ahead of the September 28-30 match play competition at Medinah, Illinois.

"My own experiences as a vice-captain in 2008 and 2010 taught me that you need a lot of help that week," the Spaniard said in a statement yesterday.

"You need eyes, extra eyes to follow the players in the practice rounds … Then it is important to have each match watched because you have to hand in your pairings for the afternoon matches when the players are still out on the course."

Olazabal, who alongside Seve Ballesteros formed the most successful partnership in the Ryder Cup since it began in 1927, was a vice-captain to Nick Faldo at Valhalla four years ago when Europe lost and for Colin Montgomerie at Celtic Manor in 2010.

Clarke, the 2011 British Open winner, Bjorn and Ireland's McGinley bring with them a wealth of experience to the 39th running of the competition. Bjorn became the first Dane to play in the biennial event when he made his debut in the winning 1997 team alongside Northern Ireland's Clarke.

McGinley was on the winning side on the three occasions he played in 2002, 2004 and 2006.

Bjorn also featured in 2002, winning again, and Clarke played five times in succession from 1997, helping to win the event on four occasions.

"We'll be seeking to use our experience to recreate that terrific team spirit and bonding that has made the European team room such a special place to be for so many years," Clarke said. Europe have held the trophy aloft on nine occasions in the past 16 Ryder Cups since the team was expanded to include continental players in 1979 after years of American domination over British and Irish teams.

Europe's 10 automatic team members will become known after the conclusion of the Johnnie Walker Championship in Scotland on August 26.

"This Ryder Cup, like so many in the past, will come down to who shows the most character under pressure," Olazabal said.

"It is certain to be close but I am confident we have the players to bring the cup back home with us."

Counterpart Davis Love III already knows his automatic players with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner and Matt Kuchar having guaranteed their selection.

Love, who has chosen Fred Couples, Mike Hulbert, Jeff Sluman and Scott Verplank as his vice-captains, will name the four wild-card picks on September 4.


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