Olazabal picks veterans as vice-captains for Ryder Cup
EUROPEAN Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal has named Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley as three of his four vice-captains for next month’s title defence against the US.
Olazabal will announce his final vice-captain and two wildcard 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 on Thursday.
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.
"You need eyes, extra eyes to follow the players in the practice rounds to gather as much information as you can about how everyone is playing. 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."
Bjorn, last year’s British Open winner Clarke, and Ireland’s McGinley bring a wealth of experience to the 39th edition 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 Irishman Clarke, while 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.
"Make no mistake, this is a very strong backroom team because we have been there before and done it before," Clarke said.
"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."
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 US 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. It is certain to be close but I am confident we have the players to bring the cup back home with us," Olazabal said.
US counterpart Davis Love already knows his players, with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner and Matt Kuchar guaranteed selection.