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Graeme McDowell holding on to playing hopes as he's named Ryder Cup vice-captain

 

By Phil Casey

Graeme McDowell has vowed to use all his experience to help Europe regain the Ryder Cup after yesterday being named by captain Thomas Bjorn as one of his vice-captains.

Bjorn named Ulsterman McDowell, Dubliner Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald as vice-captains for September's Ryder Cup showdown against the United States at Le Golf National in Paris.

McDowell - who sank the winning putt at Celtic Manor in 2010 - said: "It's my first time being involved in the back-room staff for the Ryder Cup.

"I've a huge amount of respect for Thomas and all he's accomplished in his career and I'm glad to have the opportunity to help Team Europe stop the US momentum.

"I'm excited to take on a slightly different view of things and help the 12 players be as ready as they can to regain this trophy," added McDowell, who hasn't yet ruled out earning a place on the team as a player and has won the French Open twice at this year's venue.

Westwood "jumped at the chance" to be a vice-captain, even though it almost certainly signals an end to his remarkable playing record in the showpiece contest.

Bjorn completed his backroom team by naming his remaining vice-captains ahead of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth - which starts tomorrow - with Sweden's Robert Karlsson having already been selected.

Since making his debut in 1997, Westwood has played in the last 10 contests, one short of Nick Faldo's record, and was on the winning side seven times, compiling a total of 23 points bettered only by Faldo (25), Bernhard Langer (24) and Colin Montgomerie (23.5).

And although the 45-year-old and his fellow vice-captains could still qualify to face the United States in Paris from September 28 to 30, Westwood (117th) is the only one of the five currently ranked inside the world's top 200.

"Obviously I've been on 10 Ryder Cup sides, but never been involved with the role behind the scenes," said Westwood, who failed to win a point in the defeat at Hazeltine in 2016 after being given a wild card by Ulsterman Darren Clarke.

"So when Thomas asked me to take that role I was obviously delighted and jumped at the chance. Myself and Thomas have known each other many years and anything I can do to have a bit of input and help, I will gladly do, and it will be nice to see him take on his role as captain and support him as much as I can."

Harrington is the only vice-captain with previous experience of the role.

"All five are widely respected throughout the game, are all current players who are well known to the players who will be in our team come September and they also all possess a knowledge and understanding of what to expect from Le Golf National," Bjorn said.

Westwood and Harrington have also expressed an interest in the captaincy and could be rivals to succeed Bjorn and lead Europe in 2020 at Whistling Straits.

Bjorn's opposite number Jim Furyk has named Davis Love, Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker as assistants, although Woods has stated his intention to play on the team as well.

Belfast Telegraph

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