Darren Clarke, the European Captain for The 2016 Ryder Cup, has named Denmark’s Thomas Bjørn, Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and Paul Lawrie of Scotland as his first three Vice Captains for the contest against the United States at Hazeltine National Golf Club this September.
As well as all being current players on the European Tour and therefore well known to the 12 players who will line up for Europe in Chaska, Minnesota from September 30 to October 2, the trio will also bring vital Ryder Cup experience to the European team room having competed in 11 Ryder Cups between them.
Bjørn – the most decorated Danish player in European Tour history and the first Dane to have played in the biennial contest against the Americans – has been on the winning side in all three of his Ryder Cup appearances in 1997, 2002 and 2014; Lawrie – the 1999 Open Champion – was part of the Miracle of Medinah in his second of two appearances in 2012; and Harrington – a three time Major Champion – has helped Europe lift Samuel Ryder’s golden trophy on four of his six appearances in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010.
For Bjørn and Harrington, it will also be another taste of Vice Captaincy, the Dane having helped Bernhard Langer’s team at Oakland Hills in 2004, Colin Montgomerie’s team at Celtic Manor in 2010 and José Maria Olazábal’s team at Medinah in 2012 all triumph, while Harrington was part of Paul McGinley’s backroom team during Europe’s win at Gleneagles in 2014.
Clarke, who unveiled the trio at a press conference during the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club, said: “I was delighted when Thomas, Padraig and Paul all accepted the invitation to become Ryder Cup Vice Captains. They needed no persuading.
“The three bring a wealth of experience and knowledge and their input will be invaluable to Europe's cause. I could not have asked for anybody better to be standing shoulder to shoulder with me in the bid to bring The Ryder Cup home.
“I have known and been close to Thomas for many years and I know just how passionate he is about team golf's greatest competition. He has had a major influence already both on and off the course at previous Ryder Cups and I know that will continue at Hazeltine.
“Padraig's outstanding career has included three major championship successes and his presence in the team room will bring a big confidence factor to Europe's 12 representatives.
“Paul is a highly respected major championship winner and knows exactly what it will take to reach our intended destination. His calm, considered approach and strength of character will be of immense value.”
Bjørn said: “The Ryder Cup has provided so many of the highlights in my career, both from the three Ryder Cups I’ve played in, and from the three where I assisted Bernhard, Colin and José Maria as a Vice Captain. It is an honour to be a member of the European Ryder Cup team campaign in any capacity and I very much look forward to playing a part in Darren’s team at Hazeltine.”
Harrington said: “I am delighted that Darren has given me this opportunity. I found it really interesting and rewarding helping out Paul and the team at Gleneagles in 2014 and seeing The Ryder Cup from such a different angle. I think I learned a lot from the experience and also from the matches I’ve played in, so I hope I will be able to be of some help to Darren and the players.”
Lawrie said: “I am delighted to be chosen by Darren as a Vice Captain, and it's going to be a great honour to take on this role on US soil at Hazeltine. Having played in two Ryder Cups, both in America, I would hope to draw on those experiences and offer some advice and guidance to the European Team, and continue the momentum to retain The Ryder Cup. Darren will be a fantastic leader, and it's going to be a privilege to be part of his back room team, alongside Thomas and Padraig.”
The remaining two Vice Captains, who will complete Captain Clarke’s backroom team, will be named at a later date.