x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Montgomerie picks his Ryder Cup vice captains for Europe

Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn and Paul McGinley are selected, as the captain insists they had the ideal qualities to help the team regain the trophy.

WENTWORTH, ENGLAND // Europe's Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie named Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn and Paul McGinley as his vice captains today, insisting they had the ideal qualities to help the team regain the trophy from the United States. Europe are widely regarded as favourites heading into the event at Celtic Manor, Wales from October 1-3, and with three tournament veterans assisting him, Montgomerie said the team had a great chance to make it six wins from the last eight events.

"The Ryder Cup is about passion, commitment and will to win and all three men I've named possess these qualities in abundance," Montgomerie said. "They have all been part of successful European Ryder Cup teams in the past and know the players who will be part of the team. I think this is the strongest team we (Europe) have ever assembled, on and off the course." Montgomerie still has to finalise his 12-man team, which will be named after next month's Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, but said he was delighted with the makeup of his backroom staff.

The Northern Irishman Clarke is a veteran of five consecutive Ryder Cups from 1997 to 2006, when he was on the winning side four times, while Bjorn of Denmark played in the victorious 1997 and 2002 teams and assisted Bernhard Langer at the 2004 event that Europe won at Oakland Hills, Michigan. The Irishman McGinley holed the winning putt for Europe in 2002 at the Belfry. "The four of us will be a team. We are very much together and we will be making decisions from now on together," said Montgomerie, a veteran of eight Ryder Cups.

"All of us have huge respect from the players, and respect on the course is vital." Bjorn and McGinley have long been regarded as potential vice captains but Clarke is arguably the surprise addition. He is fondly remembered for his display at the K Club, Ireland, in 2006, when he won three points from three just weeks after his wife Heather died from cancer. Europe won that year by a record-equaling nine-point margin.

"In the Ryder Cups I've been involved in, the spirit in the team room has been fantastic and we want to generate that as much as possible," said Clarke, who still has an outside chance of qualifying for the team as a player. "We've all been there and done it before." Montgomerie said he decided against selecting Jose Maria Olazabal as a vice captain because the popular Spanish player had been absent from the European Tour for much of the last two years owing to rheumatism problems in his shoulder.

"I think Jose Maria will be a captain in the future but unfortunately he isn't keeping good health," Montgomerie said. "I have spoken to him and explained the situation." Under captain Nick Faldo, Europe lost the trophy in 2008 at Valhalla, Kentucky having beaten the US in 2002, 2004 and 2006. * AP