The move came as a bit of a surprise to me though North is no stranger to the event. And, as Jason Sobel pointed out, Watson and North have been buddies for a long time:
The appointment of Andy North as assistant captain shouldn't come as a surprise. He and Tom Watson have been close friends for decades.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) July 3, 2013
North played on the 1985 Ryder Cup team that got drilled 16.5 to 11.5 by Europe.
He also won two U.S. Opens (strangely, he only ended up with one other PGA Tour win) and has been a golf analyst for ESPN since 1993.