Darren Clarke has been named as a vice-captain for the European Ryder Cup team that will face the USA at Celtic Manor in October.

The affable Irishman, who has won the Ryder Cup four times as a player, will be joined by Dubliner Paul McGinley and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn as assistants to captain Colin Montgomerie.

Montgomerie said: “This is the strongest non-playing team we have ever assembled on and off the field in Europe. It is a fabulous time for golf in Europe.”

Clarke still has a chance of competing at Celtic Manor as a player, but has insisted that such an eventuality is not cause for concern.

“Monty and I spoke at length and he has told me he wants me there one way or another,” said the 41-year-old.

“If I do well enough in the coming weeks to give him an extra headache – not that he hasn’t got one already – then we will cross that bridge then. But, as it stands, I’m not an automatic pick and I’m delighted to be part of Monty’s backroom staff.”

Clarke, his fellow vice-captains and Montgomerie played together in Europe’s Ryder Cup triumph at The Belfry in 2002.

And four years later, the Ulsterman was inspirational – winning three points from three matches at the K Club just weeks after the death of his wife Heather – as Europe claimed their third consecutive Ryder Cup.

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