VIRGINIA WATER, England – European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn has added Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell to his backroom staff for this year’s match at Le Golf National, Paris. The quartet join already named Robert Karlsson as vice-captains.
“Opportunities arose for me to have these guys on the backroom team, and when I looked at these players, I thought, these are the people I want to have there,” Bjorn said. “They bring all the right things to the team, and they bring everything I believe in.”
Unlike Karlsson, all four are potential future European captains. Harrington, who appeared in six matches as a player, is probably in line to be the next European captain for the 2020 match at Whistling Straits. He turns 47 in August, and is the eldest of the four. He’s the only one with previous experience, acting as a vice captain to Darren Clarke at Hazeltine two years ago.
Westwood could seamlessly step into the position for the 2022 match in Rome. The 45-year-old Englishman made his 10th Ryder Cup appearance in Europe’s losing effort at Hazeltine.
“I’m of an age now where my chances of making the team go down quite significantly, and it’s something that I’ve always been interested in, having played so many, but never been on the other side of it and seeing what goes on,” Westwood said. “I was keen to see that kind of angle to it and, like I said, when Thomas asked me, I jumped at the chance.”
Donald, 40, is currently out of action due to a back problem and was unlikely to make this year’s team as a result. At age 38, McDowell is the youngest of the four. He gained the winning point at Celtic Manor in 2010, and helped Europe win in 2012 and 2014 when he made his fourth appearance.
“I think my experience at Paris National, the four Ryder Cups I’ve played, have been the greatest moments of my career,” McDowell said. “I’m just excited to take on a slightly different view of things, and obviously help the 12 players be as ready as they possibly can to regain this trophy that we all care so much about.”