European Captain Pádraig Harrington has announced that Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell will join Luke Donald and Robert Karlsson as Vice Captains for the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, USA, from September 24-26.
Kaymer and McDowell will bring a broad range of knowledge and experience to the three-time Major winner’s backroom staff, having both starred in pivotal Ryder Cup moments as players.
Two-time Major winner Kaymer will take on the Vice Captaincy role for the first time after four appearances as a player (2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016), during which time he won an individual total of 6.5 points.
The German has been on the winning side three times, famously holing the putt that sealed one of the most famous comebacks in sport, in the “Miracle of Medinah” in 2012, and he will return to the scene of his Major breakthrough, having tamed Whistling Straits to secure the 2010 US PGA Championship.
McDowell returns for a second outing as European Vice Captain, having joined Harrington as part of the backroom team that helped Captain Thomas Bjørn plot the stunning 17.5-10.5 victory over the United States at Le Golf National, France, in 2018. The Northern Irish Major winner has also appeared in the biennial contest on four occasions (2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014), with nine points from 15 matches, most notably including the winning point at The Celtic Manor Resort in 2010.
Harrington said: “I’m delighted to welcome Martin and Graeme as Vice Captains, both of whom I believe will bring experience, knowledge, and a great balance to the team room. They have both contributed winning points in Ryder Cup history, have been there and done it, and the other players look up to them. They both have that aura and responsibility in that what they say will have meaning.
“Martin is somebody I wanted as a Vice Captain because he has a great personality and brings a calmness, a European element, and a lot of confidence with him. The fact that he won around Whistling Straits also brings that level of authority and assurance that you need.
“Martin will also bring a nice emotion to the team, which is very important. He’s somebody who will help with the atmosphere, put an arm around a player or two and bring that level of authority and belief that we may need during the week.
“I decided on Graeme as a Vice Captain a long time ago. He was Vice Captain in 2018 with me and I liked what he brought to the team room. He’s quite an authority, confident in what he’s doing and saying and knows the scene. The only reason he would not have been a Vice Captain was if he was going to be a player.
“Graeme is a strong influence and the players look up to him. When he speaks, people listen, but he doesn’t speak unless he’s got something to say. I definitely saw that when he was Vice Captain previously – players pay attention and follow him.”
A former World Number One, Kaymer played an important role in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, where he won two points from four. He was Europe’s hero two years earlier, holing a six-foot putt on the last to defeat the current American Captain Steve Stricker and secure the point needed to complete a miraculous comeback and retain the Trophy.
He made his debut in the biennial contest in 2010, the same year he won his first Major at the US PGA Championship, while his second Major title - a memorable eight-stroke triumph at the 2014 U.S. Open - was also the catalyst for his inclusion in the 2014 European team, helping Paul McGinley’s side to a home victory at Gleneagles in Scotland.
Kaymer said: “When Pádraig approached me, I felt very honoured immediately. It means a lot to us Europeans, especially for me as a German making the winning putt in 2012. The Ryder Cup means a lot. I would have liked to be part of this year’s Ryder Cup team for sure, in whatever position. Obviously before Padraig approached me I was trying to make the team as a player and I still do want to do that, but you feel honoured and it tells you a lot about what the Captain and the whole team behind him think about you and how they value you. It was a really nice moment.
“I admit it took me a while to say yes, because it’s a responsibility and if I do something I want to do it properly, so we talked about the role. I’m not the type of guy who is into numbers and statistics. I’m more the person talking to the guys, more of the personal stuff, a bit more of the mental side. I feel like I’m a fairly calm person when I’m playing golf and through my experience I know what they all go through, whether that’s the guys that might be playing the Ryder Cup for the first time or guys that I have played Ryder Cups with before, so I think I understand the feelings quite well.”
McDowell's crucial point at The Celtic Manor Resort in 2010 came three months after becoming the first European in 40 years to win the U.S. Open. He claimed three points from his three matches in his last appearance as a player at Gleneagles in 2014, setting the tone for a European triumph with a 2&1 victory in the lead singles match against Jordan Spieth.
McDowell said: “Being Vice Captain of the European Team at the Ryder Cup is a great honour. If you can’t play on the team, being part of the support network and the Vice Captaincy is the next best thing, and I was very proud to do it in 2018. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a different perspective on the Ryder Cup, but I certainly really enjoyed it. I knew Pádraig wanted me as part of the staff and it’s a huge honour. Pádraig is one of my heroes and such an iconic figure in Irish golf. To have him captaining a Ryder Cup team is fantastic for Europe.
“One of our big roles is to help Pádraig delegate responsibility. He’s a very intelligent guy, he’s got a lot of information in that head. From a Vice Captain’s point of view, helping get that out of his head and communicate it to the players, to me, is one of the roles that is extremely important to us. In 2018, some of the biggest things I learned were how to handle players, how to communicate with players, which players require a lot of communication, and which players you just wind them up and let them go.”
The 43rd Ryder Cup will be played at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin from September 24-26, where Europe will aim to retain the trophy they won in France in 2018 and secure their first win on US soil since 2012.