As the 2018 Ryder Cup starts to come into focus, European captain Thomas Bjorn has started filling out his team. Not with players of course -- that will come later -- but on Tuesday Bjorn announced the four golfer he has added as vice-captains. Those four are Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald and Padraig Harrington. All are expected to be future captains, which has been a common theme among past European vice-captain choices.
Those four will join Robert Karlsson to round out Bjoirn's fivesome of assistants in Paris. The six of them have combined for 29 Ryder Cup appearances.
"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 the golf course at Le Golf National too," Bjorn said.
"You only need to look at the record books to see that their Ryder Cup pedigree speaks for itself. Each of them has played both home and away so they are well versed in the contest and know how to handle the special and unique atmosphere."
Westwood is the most accomplished Ryder Cup player of the group as he's been on every European team since 1997. Although it's extremely unlikely that he would qualify in 2018 as a player (like Tiger Woods likely will on the U.S. side as a vice-captain), the distant possibility remains.
"I am honored to have been selected by Thomas to be one of what I think is a pretty impressive quintet of vice captains," Westwood said. "Having been fortunate to play in the last 10 matches, I am actually looking forward to contributing to Europe's cause in a slightly different way at this year's contest.
"I am sure it is going to be a very different experience for me, but I am relishing having a role in helping Europe win in Paris and, in particular, in assisting Thomas in his role as captain. Of course, my ideal scenario is that I hit a hot streak of form over the summer and force my way in to the team but, quite honestly, as long as I am able to contribute to the 2018 European team in some way, I am going to be happy."
All of these golfers are expected to be at the helm for Europe in the future. The interesting part will be sorting out who will captain in various years starting with 2020 at Whistling Straights against, presumably, Steve Stricker on the U.S. side.
Regardless, all of Bjorn's selections are Ryder Cup heroes of some form or fashion, and all will bring a lot to the table in September when the two sides line up in Paris for an all-time clash of two of the best teams ever assembled.
"My four Ryder Cup appearances have been the greatest experiences so far of my career," McDowell said. "The idea of playing for a team in a sport which is inherently individual is something special and it is the reason players love The Ryder Cup so much. Memories and relationships that are forged on and off the course those weeks last a lifetime."