US Ryder Cup skipper names his first assistant captain ahead of Gleneagles clash

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UNITED STATES Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson has named longtime friend Andy North as his first assistant captain ahead of the biennial clash with Europe at Gleneagles next year.

The eight-time major champion, who will spearhead the US Ryder Cup side for the second time in his career, says he asked North during a dinner at his house in Kansas City a few months ago.

“My friendship with Andy dates back to 1967,” said Watson, who captained the victorious US Ryder Cup side at The Belfry in 1993.

“Any time you have a friend, you can talk honestly to that friend about anything. Whatever conversations I have with Andy, I’ve always known that they’re private and they’re not going to go anywhere else. I really, truly value Andy’s observations.”

North is a two-time US Open champion who for the past two decades has also served as an ESPN analyst.

“It took me maybe a second and a half,” said North, of how long before he accepted the position.

“He didn't get it out of his mouth before 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 and if I can take a little bit of the responsibility off of his shoulders and make it an easier week for him, that will be awesome for me. I'm looking forward to it, a lot of excitement to the Ryder Cup, it means an awful lot to me.

“I've been lucky enough to cover it for ESPN for maybe the last four Ryder Cups, 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.”