Two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson has been named as the United States’ fifth vice-captain for this weekend’s Ryder Cup against Europe at Hazeltine.
The 37-year-old world number seven was overlooked for captain Davis Love’s final wildcard, with Tour Championship runner-up Ryan Moore selected instead.
Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Tom Lehman and Steve Stricker are Love’s other assistants.
The US are trying to stop Europe winning a fourth consecutive Ryder Cup.
“When we started talking about this year’s event we felt we needed experience, with some former captain experience and possible future captain experience,” said Love.
“Bubba has major championship experience and has Ryder Cup experience.
“He adds a lot of fun and brings a great heart. We’re thrilled to have him.”
Love – also the US captain at Medinah in 2012, when Europe won after a record comeback – said Watson completed an “interesting group” of vice-captains.
“We have a mix of guys who think differently,” he said. “You couldn’t put five guys together of differing personalities who get along so well.”
Watson, who has played in the past three Ryder Cups, reiterated to Love he wanted to be part of his backroom team, despite losing out to Moore.
“I called him and told him I was going in a different direction and he immediately said, ‘I still want to be a part of this team if you’ll have me’ – an incredible gesture,” said Love, who also named Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and JB Holmes as wildcard choices.
“When I told the team members and assistant captains, we were in disbelief.
“What Bubba did really shows how together the US team really is and we are excited to have him.”
United States team
BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter:
“One of the key elements as far as Davis Love was concerned in terms of selecting his wildcards was team chemistry.
“Bubba Watson is ranked seventh in the world, so if you were going to pick him because he is a top-10 player in the world, it makes total sense.
“If you’re going to drop someone who is a top-10 player then it is clearly down to a lack of chemistry – you would think. But here he is in the backroom staff. It’s fascinating.”
Teams unite for Palmer tributes
Players, officials and fans will pay their respects to golfing great Arnold Palmer, who died on Sunday aged 87, when the 41st Ryder Cup starts on Friday.
Flags at Hazeltine were lowered to half-mast on Monday in tribute to the seven-time major winner, who was nicknamed ‘The King’.
Players from both teams will wear pins bearing a special logo, while tournament officials are finalising details of a video tribute and minute’s silence to be held during the opening ceremony.
“Our sport wouldn’t be where it is without Mr Palmer,” said Europe captain Darren Clarke. “He was a global superstar and inspired people all over the world to take up our sport.”
Love said: “Darren and I have agreed, whatever we do, we are going to do together.
“He was my inspiration as a golfer, a role model as how to act as a professional.”
Previous success irrelevant – Clarke
Europe are aiming to continue their recent dominance of the biennial event by winning a fourth consecutive Ryder Cup for the first time.
But Clarke, who arrived in Minnesota with his team on Monday, insisted their past glories count for nothing against a side Love claims is the “best ever assembled”.
Europe have won 10 and drawn one of the past 15 events.
“I think it’s irrelevant going into this week,” said Northern Irishman Clarke. “Each Ryder Cup is individual in its own right.”
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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/golf/37479429