(Reuters) - United States captain Tom Watson has appointed twice former U.S. Open champion Andy North as a vice-captain for next year’s Ryder Cup against holders Europe at Gleneagles in Scotland.
Watson made the announcement during a news conference ahead of this week’s PGA Tour event, the Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, where he is in the field.
“Andy knows what it takes to close the deal and that’s what we need on the Ryder Cup team,” said Watson. “We need players who can close the deal.
“We’ve been discussing the players already back and forth and the types of young players who might make the team, the types of players that actually I hope make the team.
“I’m certainly happy to have Andy on my side and in my ear helping me make the decisions that will bring this Cup back home from Europe this time. It’s been way too long.”
The Americans will be bidding to end a run of seven losses against Europe in the last nine editions of the biennial competition.
Their most recent defeat came in Chicago last year when the U.S. threw away a commanding four-point lead heading into the final day in what became known as the ‘Meltdown at Medinah.’
North, who won his only two major titles at the U.S. Open in 1978 and 1985, represented his country in the 1985 Ryder Cup at The Belfry in England where he lost all three of his matches.
“I was giddy, absolutely giddy over the opportunity to not only hopefully have a role to get the Cup back, but also to be able to help a dear friend,” said the 63-year-old North, who has known Watson since 1967. “I’m looking forward to it.
“There’s a lot of excitement to the Ryder Cup, and it means an awful lot to me. I’ve been lucky enough to cover it for ESPN, and I get emotional covering it.
“It’s going to be a great experience, and the bottom line is we get a ‘W’ at the end of the week.”
North, a three-times winner on the PGA Tour, has worked as a golf analyst for ESPN since 1993.
The 40th Ryder Cup will be played at Gleneagles from Sept 26-28 next year.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Simon Evans